Cross Modal Ranschburg Effects: Examining Within-Sequence Repetitions for Visual-Verbal, Non-Verbal-Visual, and Tactile Stimuli.

Authors: Skinner, R.

The Ranschburg effect is a serial order memory phenomena, which is illustrated by recall failure for spaced repeated elements in a sequence (e.g. 1R34R6). In contrast, facilitation (improved recall) is shown for repeated items that are adjacent in the sequence (massed repetitions, e.g. 1RR3456). This effect is well researched within the verbal modality of working memory; however, no research has been conducted investigating presence of the phenomena cross-modally. The current research aimed to establish this effect in the visual and tactile (touch) modalities. Three experiments were conducted. Experiment 1 (n=40) used unfamiliar faces, with further manipulation of set size, awareness, and repetition type (spaced and massed repetitions), using serial order reconstruction (SOR) as the recall method. Experiment 1 found repetition facilitation for massed repetitions but spaced repetition did not produce inhibition (i.e. no Ranschburg effect). Experiment 2 replicated the Experiment 1 method using visual verbal stimuli (letters). Experiment 2 revealed both repetition inhibition and facilitation, showing that it was not the SOR procedure that prevented inhibition in Experiment 1. Experiment 3 (n=40) used tactile stimuli, and applied it to an immediate serial recall (ISR) procedure. Both facilitation and inhibition was reported. Across the three experiments repetition awareness and set size had limited impact on the effects of repetition. The results are discussed in reference to theories on domain general/amodal accounts of working memory.

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