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Normal perceptual priming of orthographically illegal nonwords in amnesia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2009

Margaret M. Keane
Affiliation:
Memory Disorders Research Center, Boston University School of Medicine and Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Boston, MA 02130
John D.E. Gabrieli
Affiliation:
Memory Disorders Research Center, Boston University School of Medicine and Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Boston, MA 02130 Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305
Julia S. Noland
Affiliation:
Memory Disorders Research Center, Boston University School of Medicine and Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Boston, MA 02130
Susan Ingemanson McNealy
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305

Abstract

This study examined priming in perceptual identification of orthographically illegal nonwords in control subjects and patients with global amnesia. Subjects studied a list of orthographically illegal nonwords and then performed a perceptual identification task in which half of the stimuli were from the prior study list and half were new (unstudied) stimuli. Priming was reflected in enhanced identification accuracy of studied compared to unstudied nonwords. Amnesic patients showed significant and normal priming despite impaired recognition memory performance. Because the experimental stimuli were dissimilar to real words in terms of orthography and phonology, it is unlikely that this priming effect was mediated by activation of pre-existing representations of orthographically or phonologically similar words, morphemes, or syllables. These results demonstrate that intact perceptual priming in amnesia is not limited to stimuli that are premorbidly represented in long-term knowledge, nor to novel stimuli that conform to the rules that characterize familiar items. Further, because the experimental stimuli comprised novel letter assemblies, the results suggest that amnesic patients can show normal priming for new perceptual associations. These findings demonstrate that processes spared in amnesia can support the creation and subsequent retrieval of novel stimulus representations. (JINS, 1995, I, 425–433.)

Type
Research Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The International Neuropsychological Society 1995

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