Transfer Appropriate Processing

Roediger (1990) and Roediger and McDermott (1993) developed a theoretical approach to memory based on transfer appropriate processing. The key assumption is that memory performance depends on the extent to which the processes used at the time of learning are the same as those used on the memory test. Performance will be higher when the same (or similar) processes are involved than when the processes differ between learning and retrieval. This approach closely resembles the transfer appropriate processing theory of Morris et al. (1977), and is consistent with the encoding specificity principle (both discussed in Chapter 6).

What distinguishes Roediger's approach from previous ones is his assumption that there are two broad types of cognitive processes:

1. Data-driven or perceptual processes, which can be defined as "the analysis of perceptual or surface-level features (but may also include other representations required for stimulus identification)" (Mulligan, 1998, p. 28).

2. Conceptually driven processes, which can be defined as "the analysis of meaning or semantic information" (Mulligan, 1998, p. 28).

There is some overlap between this theoretical approach and the one based on the distinction between explicit and implicit memory. In general terms, data-driven or perceptual processes often underlie performance on tests of implicit memory, whereas conceptually driven processes frequently sustain performance on tests of explicit memory. However, not all implicit tests are perceptual, nor are all explicit tests conceptual.

One of the strengths of Roediger's theoretical approach is that he has identified various criteria for deciding whether any given memory test involves mainly perceptual or conceptual processes (Roediger & McDermott, 1993). The main criteria (and some relevant findings) are as follows:

1. The effects of the read-generate study manipulation on performance. Some study words are presented visually to be read, whereas others are not presented, but must be generated from a conceptual cue. It is assumed that there is more perceptual processing in the read condition than in the generation condition, whereas there is more conceptual processing in the generate condition than in the read condition. It follows from the theory that memory tests relying mainly on perceptual processes should be performed better in the read than in the generate condition, whereas the opposite should be the case for memory tests reliant on conceptual processes.

Evidence consistent with these assumptions was reported by Jacoby (1983). He used a read condition (e.g., XXX-COLD) and a generate condition (e.g., hot—?), in which the participants generated the opposite of the word presented (e.g., cold). There then followed either a test of recognition memory or of perceptual identification identifying rapidly presented words). The findings are shown in Figure 7.3. According to the theory, they indicate that recognition memory mainly involves conceptual processes, whereas perceptual identification relies on perceptual processes.

2. The effects of the levels-of-processing manipulation on performance (see Chapter 6). The essence of this manipulation is that the participants perform one of two tasks at the time of learning. One requires the

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