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It is well established that requiring a person to respond to a recently ignored object in a visual selection task leads to slower responding (i.e., negative priming). In the present experiment, subjects identified target letters flanked by incompatible distractor letters on prime and probe displays. Prime display distractors appeared as the target letter on one third of subsequent probe displays. We manipulated stimulus strength by means of intensity contrast between letter displays and their background. Displays were presented with either high contrast (white against a black background) or low contrast (dark gray against a black background). The important finding was that negative priming was maximal when prime and probe displays shared the same intensity contrast. These results suggest that greater similarity between prime and probe displays results in improved retrieval of prime display information. The results provide strong support for an episodic retrieval account of negative priming.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychonomic Bulletin and Review

Publication Date





107 - 113