Effects of type of responding on memory/visual search: Responding just “yes” or just “no” can lead to inflexible performance

Interactions of stimulus consistency and type of responding were examined during perceptual learning.  Subjects performed hybrid memory-visual search tasks over extended consistent and varied mapping practice.  Response conditions required subjects to respond to both the presence and absence of a target, only when a target was present or only when a target was not present.  After training, the subjects were transferred to a different response condition.  The results indicate that: (1) performance on search tasks with stimuli that are variably mapped show no qualitative changes attributable to manipulation of response format; (2) improvement due to consistent mapping (CM) practice is attenuated in the no-only response condition; (3) yes-only CM training attenuates the subjects’ ability to transfer to no-only responding; and (4) yes/no CM training leads to the greatest improvement and transfer when compared with other responding conditions.  The practice and transfer data support and extend previous research investigation effects of response set in memory/visual search and help to delineate factors that facilitate or inhibit reduction of load effects in memory and visual search.