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The integration of familiarity and recollection information in short-term recognition: modeling speed-accuracy trade-off functions

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Dual process models postulate familiarity and recollection as the basis of the recognition process. We investigated the time-course of integration of the two information sources to one recognition judgment in a working memory task. We tested 24 subjects with a response signal variant of the modified Sternberg recognition task (Oberauer, 2001) to isolate the time course of three different probe types indicating different combinations of familiarity and source information. We compared two mathematical models implementing different ways of integrating familiarity and recollection. Within each model, we tested three assumptions about the nature of the familiarity signal, with familiarity having (a) only positive values, indicating similarity of the probe with the memory list, (b) only negative values, indicating novelty, or (c) both positive and negative values. Both models provided good fits to the data. A model combining the outputs of both processes additively (Integration Model) gave an overall better fit to the data than a model based on a continuous familiarity signal and a probabilistic all-or-none recollection process (Dominance Model).

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  1. 1.

    This probability is equivalent to the probability that evidence with a mean of (f + r) surpasses a threshold—bias. Hence, Model 1 is a signal detection model in which the zero point on the evidence dimension is set to the neutral criterion; the actual criterion is bias. The evidence is the sum of two continuous dimensions, f and r. The model therefore is closely related to the two-dimensional signal-detection model of Rotello et al. (2004).

  2. 2.

    Without this constraint, the perfect trade-off between the asymptotes of the two processes and the noise parameter would prevent a stable solution of the fit algorithm.

  3. 3.

    One might argue that the comparison of model versions is unfair because versions 1A and 1B have only six parameters whereas 1C has seven parameters. The within-version analyses, however, have shown that 1A and 1B could not be improved by adding free parameters. Moreover, the adjusted R 2 statistic takes penalizes 1C for its larger number of parameters.

  4. 4.

    The evidence for recall-to-reject can be expressed as a reduction in d′ computed from acceptance of intrusion probes as “hits” and acceptance of new probes as false alarms.


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Author information

Correspondence to Katrin Göthe.

Additional information

This research was supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), grant KL 955/6 at the University of Potsdam. We thank Anja Meinke for programming the experiment, and Matthias Schlesewsky for inspiring discussions.

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Göthe, K., Oberauer, K. The integration of familiarity and recollection information in short-term recognition: modeling speed-accuracy trade-off functions. Psychological Research 72, 289–303 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-007-0111-9

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  • Positive Probe
  • Probe Type
  • Recognition Decision
  • Dominance Model
  • Negative Probe