Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Serial learning of verbal and nonverbal sequences
by Bonk, William James, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2008, 228; 3303837
Abstract (Summary)

A new experimental task was developed, combining serial reproduction of order and serial learning tasks and permitting a wide variety of experimental manipulations. The new task was used to explore the effect of several variables on serial memory performance: stimulus content (words, blanks, and pictures), presentation condition (spatial information versus none), and semantically categorized item clustering (grouped versus ungrouped). In Experiment 1, pictures enjoyed a small advantage over words in serial learning, and this advantage was greater for longer lists. In a serial position analysis spanning two attempts, there was only evidence of a slight pictures advantage. There was no evidence that participants used the available spatial location information to help them perform the task. Performance on blank items was much lower than on items with content, although participants were still able to accomplish the task using only spatial information. In Experiment 2 pictures were learned to a criterion more quickly than words. Sequences with three-item semantic clusters of items enjoyed a large advantage over unclustered items, and this advantage increased with list length but did not interact with stimulus content. Serial position analysis also showed a pictures advantage over words, and revealed that this advantage appears to manifest itself mainly in the post-primacy serial positions, on first attempts. Although grouped and ungrouped stimulus conditions appeared to yield an equivalent amount of learning from first to second attempts, the grouped stimuli manifested this learning mainly in the post-primacy and recency serial position regions. Region-by-region analysis of serial position curves revealed that the primacy effect was more steeply negative for ungrouped stimuli than for grouped on both first and second attempts, and that the primacy decline was less steep for pictures than for words on first attempts only. Grouping appeared to be especially beneficial just before the recency region, but ungrouped stimuli showed a stronger recency effect than grouped. A piecewise regression approach for analyzing the serial position data in a single model was also developed. Detailed analyses provided characterizations of the shape of the serial position functions for different types of stimulus conditions and across attempts as learning progressed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Healy, Alice F.
Commitee: Borko, Hilda, Bourne, Lyle E., Curran, Tim, Wiley, Edward W.
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-B 69/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychology, Experiments, Cognitive therapy
Keywords: Learning, Memory, Nonverbal, Nonverbal sequences, Sequence learning, Serial learning, Serial position curve, Verbal sequences
Publication Number: 3303837
ISBN: 9780549508137
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