How to Automate Data Exchange with Stroke Scribe Serial ActiveX
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Temporary retention of serial order (e.g., of actions, objects, or words) is fundamental to a wide range of cognitive tasks. The majority of studies of immediate serial-ordered recall have used verbal stimuli where the assumption is that the underlying codes for the sequences are phonological or speech-based, regardless of whether presentation is visual or auditory. However, in recent years there has been debate as to the nature of the cognitive mechanisms that might support retention of serial order. In their review of research on verbal serial order, Hurlstone, Hitch and Baddeley (2014) note that there is a lack of studies that have explored the use of visual codes in serial recall tasks. In the three experiments reported here, we explored whether serial recall of visually presented verbal lists might involve the use of visual as well as verbal codes, whether the characteristics of serial recall are similar regardless of the type of code used, and whether those characteristics are the same in a logographic (Japanese Kanji) and an alphabetic (English) language.
In our previous work, we have demonstrated poorer written serial recall of lists of visually similar compared with visually distinct English words and letters when phonological similarity is controlled (Logie, Della Sala, Wynn & Baddeley, 2000). In a later study Saito, Logie, Morita and Law (2008) demonstrated independent and additive effects of visual similarity and phonological similarity within the same stimulus lists when both forms of similarity were manipulated orthogonally for Japanese kanji characters. Moreover, the phonological similarity effect was removed by concurrent articulation, but the visual similarity effect remained intact, or was enhanced when articulatory rehearsal was prevented. Similar findings of independent phonological and visual similarity effects, and selective disruption of phonological but not visual similarity by concurrent articulation, have been reported recently by Lin, Chen, Lai and Wu (2015) using a probe technique to test memory for serial order of Chinese characters. Further evidence for the use of visual codes in serial recall tasks comes from the finding that serial recall of sequences of matrix patterns (Avons & Mason, 1999; Walker, Hitch & Duroe, 1993), and of faces (Smyth, Hay, Hitch & Horton, 2005) is disrupted when stimuli are visually similar. Guérard, Neath, Surprenant and Tremblay (2010) reported a visual distinctiveness effect in recall of non-verbal spatial sequences. Poirier, Saint-Aubin, Musselwhite, Mohanadas and Mahammed (2007) reported evidence for the use of both phonological and visual codes in memory for serial order of line drawings that were easily nameable and for more abstract matrix patterns. Collectively, this previous evidence suggests that both phonological and visual codes can be used to support immediate serial recall of visually presented verbal as well as non-verbal material.
The above findings, and particularly the findings from Saito et al. (2008) and Lin et al. (2015), are consistent with neuropsychological evidence that immediate serial recall based on phonological codes and immediate serial recall based on visual codes might rely on separate, domain-specific temporary memory stores. For example, there are several reports of brain-damaged individuals with a specific impairment of verbal serial-ordered recall who also fail to show disruptive effects of phonological similarity with auditory presentation. Typically, such patients can recall more items in the correct serial order when items are presented visually than when they are presented aurally. With visual presentation, errors are based on visual similarity of the items, and levels of performance are similar to those for healthy adults performing the same task with concurrent articulation (e.g., Basso, Spinnler, Vallar & Zanobio, 1982; Beyn & Knyazeva, 1962; Shallice & Warrington, 1970; Warrington & Rabin, 1971; Warrington & Shallice, 1972; for reviews see Vallar & Shallice, 1990; Logie, 1995; Logie & Della Sala, 2005). This suggests that an intact temporary visual store might be able to support serial recall performance, even if there is damage to the system that supports serial order for phonological codes, or the use of the latter is prevented by concurrent articulation in healthy adults. It is also possible that healthy adults might simply choose to retain items using visual rather than phonological codes in immediate serial-ordered recall tasks with visual presentation (e.g., Logie, Della Sala, Laiacona, Chalmers & Wynn, 1996; Della Sala, Logie, Marchetti & Wynn, 1991). Together, the previous evidence from healthy adults and from neuropsychological studies demonstrates that visual temporary serial-ordered memory and phonological temporary serial order memory can be damaged independently, can be disrupted independently in healthy adults, and can contribute additively to serial-ordered recall performance.
What remains unclear is whether temporary memory for ordered sequences of visual codes involves similar processes to retention of ordered sequences of phonological codes. This issue is particularly important given the evidence described above that the use of different codes might involve separate, domain-specific temporary memory systems. There is some evidence for such similar processes. For example, Avons (1998; Avons & Mason, 1999) reported that when memory for visual serial order was tested by having participants select items in order from a test array of visual patterns, recall showed a bowed serial position curve with both primacy and recency effects. The bowed serial position function has also been shown using this same serial reconstruction technique with sequences of faces (Smyth et al., 2005). Avons (1998), Avons and Mason, (1999), and Smyth et al. (2005) raised the possibility that the same system might support retention of serial order regardless of whether the material is visual or phonological. An alternative view, also raised by Smyth et al. (2005) and Saito et al. (2008), is that any system supporting memory for serial order might show characteristic serial position curves and effects of within-list item similarity, even if there are separate, modality-specific temporary memory systems. It may indeed be the case that there is an optimal algorithm for retention of serial order in any temporary memory system, although a detailed discussion of this issue is outside the scope of the current paper.
Our goal here is to address the lacuna in research on visual serial recall noted by Hurlstone et al. (2014) by following up on the Logie et al. (2000) and Saito et al. (2008) studies on this topic. We explored across three experiments whether the characteristic saw-tooth data pattern for alternating lists might also be present in recall of items that alternate visually similar and visually distinct verbal items that are presented visually. Note that neither in our previous work (Logie et al., 2000; Saito et al., 2008) nor here do we suggest that the use of visual codes is obligatory for healthy adults (e.g., Fürstenberg, Rummer & Schweppe, 2013). Rather we are suggesting that visual codes are available and may be used strategically along with other information about the stimulus set to support retention and retrieval of serial order (Logie et al., 1996).
We investigated the retention of serial order by means of visual codes for visually presented verbal material by manipulating whether list types (mixed visually similar and visually different items or pure lists of one item type) were randomized within blocks of trials (Experiment 1), broadly following the design in Baddeley (1968), or each trial block comprised the same list type (Experiments 2 and 3), following the general design used by Henson et al. (1996). We anticipated that visual similarity effects would be more evident with blocked lists. In blocked lists participants might be more likely to establish an encoding strategy that they would apply consistently across lists. In contrast, in mixed blocks when participants cannot anticipate which list type is going to be presented next, they would be more likely to swap between code types, or default to attempting the use of phonological codes.
Finally, the Logie et al. (2000) experiments used English language materials, whereas the Saito et al. (2008) experiments used Japanese Kanji materials. In the experiments reported here, we used equivalent paradigms in the two languages with native speakers of each: Experiments 1 and 2 with Japanese Kanji, and Experiment 3 with the English language. In part this was because Kanji involves ideograms rather than a phonetic alphabet and may therefore be more likely to encourage the use of visual codes, even in native speakers of Japanese. We wished to explore whether our findings are universal for serial-ordered recall of visual codes across very different written languages rather than specific to Japanese. In each case participants performed serial-ordered written recall of visually presented sequences of verbal stimuli that varied in visual similarity but were controlled for phonological similarity. Item frequency was controlled, and the influence of semantic content was minimized by using semantically unrelated words. The visual writing complexity of Kanji words was also controlled. Concurrent articulation was used to discourage the use of phonological coding. In each experiment we used a small pool of items, with any one participant seeing the same items repeated in different orders across trials. This was to reduce the possibility of extra-list intrusions in recall and to help reduce the contribution of item-specific information to the retention of serial order, thereby allowing a focus on the manipulations of phonological and visual similarity for immediate serial-ordered recall. We recognize that use of small word pools may reduce but might not completely eliminate item-specific contributions (e.g., Lin et al., 2015; Taylor, Macken & Jones, 2015). However, different small pools of items were used for each experiment, two in Kanji (modified from Saito et al., 2008) and one in English (based on Logie et al., 2000), to ensure that any findings cannot be attributed to the idiosyncracies of a specific language or a specific item set.