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Data-driven processing (bottom-up processing)

When mental processing of a stimulus is guided largely or exclusively by the features and elements in the pattern itself, this processing is described as being data driven (contrasts with conceptually driven processing or top down processing)



Simple loss of information across time, presumably caused by a feeding process, especially in sensory memory; also, an older theory of forgetting form long term memory.


Declarative memory

Long term memory knowledge that can be retrieved then reflect on consciously.


Deep structure

In linguistics and psycholinguistics, the deep structure of a sentence is the meaning of the sentence; a deep structure is presumably the most basic and abstract level of representation of a sentence or idea (contrasts with surface structure).


Default value

The common or ordinary value of some variable. In script theory, default value refers to an aspect of a story or scene that conforms to the typical or ordinary state of affairs; for instance, 'MENU' is the default value that fills the slot in a script in which customers find out what can be ordered in a restaurant.


Defining feature

In Smith et al. (1974) theory of semantic memory, a defining feature is a property or feature of a concept that is essential to the meaning of that concept; for instance, bearing live young is a defining feature of the concept 'MAMMAL'.
(Contrasts with characteristic feature.)



The branching, input structures of the neuron.


Depth of processing (levels of processing)

Craik and Lockhart's (1972) alternative to the standard three-component memory model. Information subjected only to maintenance rehearsal is not being processed more deeply into the meaning-based levels of the memory system and therefore tends to not be recalled or recognised as accurately as information subjected to elaborative rehearsal.


Direct theory

In conversation a direct theory is a persons's appraisal of or informal theory about the other participant in the conversation, including information about the other persons knowledge, sophistication and personal motives (contrasts with second-order theory).


Discriminability effect

The greater the distance or difference between the two stimuli being compared, the faster the decision that they differ.



One of Hockett's (1960) linguistic universals, referring to the fact that language permits us to talk about times other than the immediate present; language thus permits us to displace ourselves in time, by talking about the past, future and so on.



Patterns of abilities and performance, especially among brain-damaged patients, revealing that one cognitive process can be disrupted while another remains intact. In a double dissociation, two patients show opposite patterns of disruption and preserved function, further evidence that the cognitive processes are functionally and anatomically separate.


Distance effect (discriminability effect)

An effect, seen particularly in response time, in which two distant or highly discriminable stimuli are more easily judged than two nearby or less discriminable stimuli; for instance, judgements re faster to 'poor vs. excellent' than to 'good vs. excellent'.


Domain of knowledge

A general term referring to one's knowledge of as specific domain or topic, especially in problem solving.


Doubly dissociated

Two mental processes are said to be doubly dissociated when a deficit in one of them, say due to brain damage, does not necessarily produce a deficit in the other process, and vice versa; for instance, a deficit in language comprehension due to brain damage (in Wernicke's area) does not necessarily produce a deficit in language production (in Broca's area)and vice-versa.


Downhill change

In the simulation heuristic, an unusual or unexpected aspect of a story or situation that is changed to be more normal or customary. If a story character left work early and was involved in a car accident, a likely downhill change would be to normalise the unusual characteristic and substitute a more customary aspect, such as leaving for work on time


Dual coding hypothesis

According to Paivo (1971), concrete words can be encoded into memory twice, once as verbal symbols and once as image-based symbols, thus increasing the likelihood that they will be recalled or remembered.


Dual task procedure

A method in which two tasks are preformed simultaneously, such that the attentional and processing demands of one or both tasks can be assessed and varied. Dual task methodology is commonly used in studies of attention and attention-dependent mental processing.



Error, flaw, or irregularity in spoken speech.