Dissociating positive and negative influences of verbal processing on the recognition of pictures of faces and objects

Kazuyo Nakabayashi*, A. Mike Burton, Maria A. Brandimonte, Toby J. Lloyd-Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
60 Downloads (Pure)


Four experiments investigated the role of verbal processing in the recognition of pictures of faces and objects. We used (a) a stimulus-encoding task where participants learned sequentially presented pictures in control, articulatory suppression, and describe conditions and then engaged in an old-new picture recognition test and (b) a poststimulus-encoding task where participants learned the stimuli without any secondary task and then either described or not a single item from memory before the recognition test. The main findings were as follows: First, verbalization influenced picture recognition. Second, there were contrasting influences of verbalization on the recognition of faces, compared with objects, that were driven by (a) the stage of processing during which verbalization took place (as assessed by the stimulus-encoding and poststimulus-encoding tasks), (b) whether verbalization was subvocal (whereby one goes through the motions of speaking but without making any sound) or overt, and (c) stimulus familiarity. During stimulus encoding there was a double dissociation whereby subvocal verbalization interfered with the recognition of faces but not objects, while overt verbalization benefited the recognition of objects but not faces. In addition, stimulus familiarity provided an independent and beneficial influence on performance. Post stimulus encoding, overt verbalization interfered with the recognition of both faces and objects, and this interference was apparent for unfamiliar but not familiar stimuli. Together these findings extend work on verbalization to picture recognition and place important parameters on stimulus and task constraints that contribute to contrasting beneficial and detrimental effects of verbalization on recognition memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-390
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


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