Verbal recoding of visual stimuli impairs mental image transformations.
Brandimonte MA., Hitch GJ., Bishop DV.
Two experiments were carried out to test the hypothesis that verbal recoding of visual stimuli in short-term memory influences long-term memory encoding and impairs subsequent mental image operations. Easy and difficult-to-name stimuli were used. When rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise, each stimulus revealed a new pattern consisting of two capital letters joined together. In both experiments, subjects first learned a short series of stimuli and were then asked to rotate mental images of the stimuli in order to detect the hidden letters. In Experiment 1, articulatory suppression was used to prevent subjects from subvocal rehearsal when learning the stimuli, whereas in Experiment 2, verbal labels were presented with each stimulus during learning to encourage a reliance on the verbal code. As predicted, performance in the imagery task was significantly improved by suppression when the stimuli were easy to name (Experiment 1) but was severely disrupted by labeling when the stimuli were difficult to name (Experiment 2). We concluded that verbal recoding of stimuli in short-term memory during learning disrupts the ability to generate veridical mental images from long-term memory.