Academic Writing Example

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Academic Writing Example

Negative priming refers to the apparent disruption, usually slowing, of the response to an item if it has been previously ignored (Tipper 2001). In everyday instances, large amounts of information can bombard ones senses. In order to achieve goals and focus and process information we need in our everyday lives, one must selectively attend to a limited amount of the information being presented. It is usually best to not let the excess information be distractive, however after a person has ignored a stimulus, the processing of that ignored stimulus shortly becomes impaired and difficult to retrieve at a later date. This fairly common occurrence in the brain is referred to as negative priming. There is argument surrounding negative priming in whether research can attribute the effect to processes of selective inhibition or episodic memory retrieval.

While initial research believed that selective inhibition was the account of negative priming, recent studies have found that episodic memory retrieval is quite possibly a more pertinent retrieval process in negative priming. The selective inhibition theory states when a stimulus is viewed, representations in the brain are activated as part of the object recognition process. The episodic memory retrieval model on the other hand argues that negative priming does not reflect inhibitory recognitions, but instead reflects a memory process. According to Tipper (2001) memory must be involved in all priming effects, because it involves a link between the past and present, because we observed how viewing at stimulus at one time influences processing of the same, or a related stimulus at a later time. The theory that ignored stimulus information is fully encoded in memory, and selective retrieval of such information affects selective attention performance, is supported by enough quality research to show that selective inhibition does not play a prominent role in the negative priming effect. Research collected on the topic of negative priming can be used to provide evidence in of its correlation with the episodic memory retrieval model.

The theory of episodic memory as related to negative priming, according to Neill, Valdes and Terry (1995), uses “memory tags” describing a certain status is given to a stimulus when negative priming occurs. During the processing of the prime display, or the initial presentation of the stimulus, this tag is given, usually telling the brain to ignore the stimulus. In the probe display, or the next time the stimulus is presented as a target that needs to be attended to, the prior processing episode involving the stimulus is retrieved.

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