Memory & Cognition

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 539–545 | Cite as

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

  • Veronika ColtheartEmail 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.


Serial Position Word List Serial Recall Phonological Code Phonological Similarity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Avons, S. E., Wright, K. L., & Pammer, K. (in press). The word length effect in probed and serial recall.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.Google Scholar
  2. Baddeley, A. D. (1966). Short-term memory for word sequences as a function of acoustic, semantic and formal similarity.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,18, 362–365.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Baddeley, A. D. (1986).Working memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Baddeley, A. D., Papagno, C., &Vallar, G. (1988). When long-term memory depends on short-term storage.Journal of Memory & Language,27, 586–595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baddeley, A. D., Thomson, N., &Buchanan, M. (1975). Word length and the structure of short-term memory.Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior,14, 575–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bavelier, D., &Potter, M. C. (1992). Visual and phonological codes in repetition blindness.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance,18, 134–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Besner, D., &Davelaar, E. (1982). Basic processes in reading: Two phonological codes.Canadian Journal of Psychology,36, 701–711.Google Scholar
  8. Bishop, D. V. M., &Robson, J. (1989). Unimpaired short-term memory and rhyme judgement in congenitally speechless individuals: Implications for the notion of articulatory coding.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,41A, 123–141.Google Scholar
  9. Coltheart, V., Avons, S. E., &Trollope, J. (1990). Articulatory suppression and phonological codes in reading for meaning.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,42A, 375–399.Google Scholar
  10. Conrad, R. (1964). Acoustic confusion in immediate memory.British Journal of Psychology,55, 75–84.Google Scholar
  11. Conrad, R. (1972). Short-term memory in the deaf: A test for speech coding.British Journal of Psychology,63, 173–180.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Conrad, R., &Hull, A. J. (1964). Information, acoustic confusion and memory span.British Journal of Psychology,55, 429–432.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Ellis, N. C., &Hennelly, R. A. (1980). A bilingual word-length effect: Implications for intelligence testing and the relative ease of mental calculation in Welsh and English.British Journal of Psychology,71, 43–52.Google Scholar
  14. Gathercole, S., &Baddeley, A. O. (1989). Evaluation of the role of phonological STM in the development of vocabulary in children: A longitudinal study.Journal of Memory & Language,28, 200–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gum, T., &Bub, D. (1985). Psychlab [Computer program]. Montreal: Montreal Neurological Institute.Google Scholar
  16. Henry, L. A. (1991). The effects of word length and phonemic similarity in young children’s short-term memory.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,43A, 35–52.Google Scholar
  17. Hitch, G. J., &Halliday, M. S. (1983). Working memory in children.Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London: Series B,302, 325–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hitch, G. J., Halliday, S., Schaafstal, A. M., &Schraagen, J. M. C. (1988). Visual working memory in young children.Memory & Cognition,16, 120–132.Google Scholar
  19. Kanwisher, N. G. (1987). Repetition blindness: Type recognition without token individuation.Cognition,27, 117–143.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Kanwisher, N. G., &Potter, M. C. (1990). Repetition blindness: Levels of processing.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance,16, 30–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kučera, H., &Francis, W. N. (1967).Computational analysis of present-day American English. Providence, RI: Brown University Press.Google Scholar
  22. La Pointe, L. B., &Engle, R. W. (1990). Simple and complex word spans as measures of working memory capacity.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory. & Cognition,16, 1118–1133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Monsell, S. (1987). On the relation between lexical input and output pathways for speech. In A. Allport, D. MacKay, W. Prinz, & E. Scheerer (Eds.),Language perception and production: Relationships between listening, speaking, reading and writing (pp. 273–311). London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  24. Murray, D. J. (1968). Articulation and acoustic confusability in short-term memory.Journal of Experimental Psychology,78, 679–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pollatsek, A., Lesch, M., Morris, R. K., &Rayner, K. (1992). Phonological codes are used in integrating information across saccades in word identification and reading.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance,18, 148–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Stigler, J. W., Lee, S.-Y., &Stevenson, H. W. (1986). Digit memory in Chinese and English: Evidence for a temporally limited store.Cognition,23, 1–20.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Watkins, M. J., Watkins, O. C., &Crowder, R. G. (1974). The modality effect in free and serial recall as a function of phonological similarity.Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior,13, 430–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wickelgren, W. A. (1965). Short-term memory for phonemically similar lists.American Journal of Psychology,78, 567–574.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Behavioural SciencesMacquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia

Personalised recommendations