How well imageability, concreteness, perceptual strength, and action strength predict recognition memory, lexical decision, and reading aloud performance

Maya M. Khanna, Michael J. Cortese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We examined how well imageability, concreteness, perceptual strength, and action strength predicted recognition memory, lexical decision, and reading aloud performance. We used our imageability estimates [Cortese, M. J., & Fugett, A. (2004). Imageability ratings for 3,000 monosyllabic words. Behavior Methods and Research, Instrumentation, & Computers, 36(3), 384–387. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03195585; Schock, J., Cortese, M. J., & Khanna, M. M. (2012a). Imageability ratings for 3,000 disyllabic words. Behavior Research Methods, 44(2), 374–379. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-011-0162-0], concreteness norms of Brysbaert and colleagues [Brysbaert, M., Warriner, A. B., & Kuperman, V. (2014). Concreteness ratings for 40 thousand generally known English lemmas. Behavior Research Methods, 46(3), 904–911. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-013-0403-5], and perceptual and action strength ratings of Lynott and colleagues [Lynott, D., Connell, L., Brysbaert, M., Brand, J., & Carney, J. (2020). The lancaster sensorimotor norms: Multidimensional measures of perceptual and action strength for 40,000 English words. Behavior Research Methods, 52(3), 1271–1291. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-019-01316-z]. Our results indicate imageability is the best predictor, but methodological differences between ratings studies may contribute to the results. Surprisingly, action strength was negatively (albeit weakly) related to recognition memory. Analyses of item zRTs from the English lexicon project indicate these variables were not strong predictors of reading aloud or lexical decision performance. However, there is a small, consistent positive relationship between concreteness and zRTs (i.e., a facilitative abstractness effect). We believe researchers should either employ or control for imageability rather than concreteness, perceptual strength, or action strength when conducting recognition memory experiments. In addition, image-based codes generated at encoding strengthen memory traces but do not provide major inputs into reading aloud and lexical decision processes. Also, the facilitative abstractness effect on lexical decision and reading aloud zRTs may reflect more robust lexical representations for abstract words than concrete words, and that these two constructs are distinct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)622-636
Number of pages15
JournalMemory
Volume29
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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