Establishing Global and Local Correspondence Between Successive Stimuli: The Holistic Nature of Backward Alignment

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Reflection decisions on alphanumeric characters display systematic effects of disorientation, suggesting that subjects mentally rotate the stimulus to the upright (the uprighting process). However, response time also increases with increasing angular disparity between the current and preceding orientations. This occurs only when the current stimulus is a rotational transform of the preceding stimulus, suggesting that the current stimulus is brought into congruence with the preceding one (the backward alignment process). In the present study, we examined the hypothesis that the transformation that occurs in backward alignment is holistic even in tasks in which the uprighting process is likely to be piecemeal. Evidence supporting this hypothesis is presented on the basis of tasks requiring either classification of numbers (Experiments 1 and 3) and words (Experiment 2), or mirror image discrimination on letter pairs (Experiment 4). The results indicated that backward alignment establishes global correspondence between successive stimuli and is indifferent to local correspondence at the level of the constituent elements. The establishment of this global correspondence decreases with the number of elements in the stimulus (Experiment 5), but its effects are still observed for four-letter strings (Experiment 6).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-494
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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