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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2008 Jan;34(1):146-66. doi: 10.1037/0278-7393.34.1.146.

Now you see it, now you don't: repetition blindness for nonwords.

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Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011-3180, USA.


Repetition blindness (RB) for nonwords has been found in some studies, but not in others. The authors propose that the discrepancy in results is fueled by participant strategy; specifically, when rapid serial visual presentation lists are short and participants are explicitly informed that some trials will contain repetitions, participants are able to use partial orthographic information to correctly guess repetitions on repetition trials while avoiding spurious repetition reports on control trials. The authors first replicated V. Coltheart and R. Langdon's (2003) finding of RB for words but repetition advantage for nonwords (Experiment 1). When all participants were encouraged to utilize partial information in a same/different matching task along with an identification task, a repetition advantage was observed for both words and nonwords (Experiment 2). When guessing of repetitions was made detectable by including non-identical but orthographically similar items in the experiments, the repetition advantage disappeared; instead, RB was found for both words and nonwords (Experiments 3 and 4). Finally, when experiments did not contain any identical items, participants almost never reported repetitions, and reliable RB was found for orthographically similar words and nonwords (Experiments 5 and 6).

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