Selective interference with the use of visual images in the symbolic distance paradigm

Graham M Dean, Stephen A Dewhurst, Peter E Morris, Annalise Whittaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Eight experiments investigated the effects of visual, spatial, auditory, and executive interference on the symbolic comparison of animal size and ferocity, semantic goodness of words, and numbers. Dynamic visual noise (DVN) and the reading of visually presented stimulus items were shown to selectively interfere with response times on the animal size comparison task, though the slope of the symbolic distance function remained unchanged. Increased change of DVN significantly increased interference, but interference was reduced by equiluminant DVN. Spatial tracking reduced the slope of the symbolic distance function in contrast to an executive task that only increased mean latency and errors for all comparisons. Results suggest that the generation of an image is necessary for size comparison, but neither imagery nor executive function is responsible for the frequently observed distance-time function.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1043-1068
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2005


Cite this