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Mem Cognit. 2011 Nov;39(8):1457-71. doi: 10.3758/s13421-011-0118-8.

Stimulus-response bindings code both abstract and specific representations of stimuli: evidence from a classification priming design that reverses multiple levels of response representation.

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Institute of Cognitive Neurology and Dementia Research, Otto-von-Guericke University, Magdeburg, Germany.


Repetition priming can be caused by the rapid retrieval of previously encoded stimulus-response (S-R) bindings. S-R bindings have recently been shown to simultaneously code multiple levels of response representation, from specific Motor-actions to more abstract Decisions ("yes"/"no") and Classifications (e.g., "man-made"/"natural"). Using an experimental design that reverses responses at all of these levels, we assessed whether S-R bindings also code multiple levels of stimulus representation. Across two experiments, we found effects of response reversal on priming when switching between object pictures and object names, consistent with S-R bindings that code stimuli at an abstract level. Nonetheless, the size of this reversal effect was smaller for such across-format (e.g., word-picture) repetition than for within-format (e.g., picture-picture) repetition, suggesting additional coding of format-specific stimulus representations. We conclude that S-R bindings simultaneously represent both stimuli and responses at multiple levels of abstraction.

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