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Semantic categorisation of a word supports its phonological integrity in verbal short-term memory

Savill, Nicola, Metcalfe, Tim, Ellis, Andrew W. and Jefferies, Elizabeth (2015) Semantic categorisation of a word supports its phonological integrity in verbal short-term memory. Journal of Memory and Language, 84. pp. 128-138.

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Abstract

In three immediate serial recall (ISR) experiments we tested the hypothesis that interactive processing between semantics and phonology supports phonological coherence in verbal short-term memory (STM). Participants categorised spoken words in six-item lists as they were presented, according to their semantic or phonological properties, then repeated the items in presentation order (Experiment 1). Despite matched categorisation performance between conditions, semantically-categorised words were correctly recalled more often than phonologically-categorised words. This accuracy advantage in the semantic condition was accompanied by fewer phoneme recombination errors. Comparisons with a no-categorisation ISR baseline (Experiment 2) indicated that, although categorisations were disruptive overall, recombination errors were specifically rarer following semantic categorisation. Experiment 3 replicated the key findings from Experiment 1 and also revealed fewer phonologically-related errors following semantic categorisation compared to a perceptual categorisation of high or low pitch. Therefore, augmented activation of semantic representations stabilises the phonological traces of words within verbal short-term memory, in line with the “semantic binding” hypothesis.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2015.06.003
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
School/Department: School of Psychological & Social Sciences
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/2500

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