Memory & Cognition

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 539-545

First online:

Effects of phonological similarity and concurrent irrelevant articulation on short-term-memory recall of repeated and novel word lists

  • Veronika ColtheartAffiliated withSchool of Behavioural Sciences, Macquarie University Email author 


The extent to which phonological similarity of list words impairs short-term-memory recall was investigated in two experiments. Experiment 1 showed that the phonological-similarity effect occurred both when list words were repeatedly sampled from a small set and when they were new on every trial, both when word-order information was required and when it was not. Furthermore, the adverse effect of phonological similarity on recall was apparent on the initial lists recalled, did not change over trials, and cannot be attributed to increasing levels of proactive inhibition across lists. In Experiment 2, subjects were required to count repeatedly to six during list presentation. Concurrent irrelevant articulation lowered recall and abolished the phonological similarity effect for both repeated and novel word lists.