Exploring the necessary conditions for phonological interference in serial recall

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This paper explores the impact of phonological overlap amongst items on short term memory recall performance by manipulating the type, number and syllabic position of shared phonemes between words in a serial recall task. Roodenrys et al [Roodenrys, S., Miller., L. M., & Josifoski, N. (2022b). Phonemic interference in short-term memory contributes to forgetting but it is not due to overwriting. Journal of Memory and Language, 122, 104301. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2021.104301] demonstrated that when the phonemes of a target word also occur in words earlier in the list, recall of the target word is impaired. Two experiments are reported that further examine the nature of this interference effect. Experiment 1 varied the type and number of phonemes shared with the single syllable target word by other list words and found a single shared vowel impaired target word recall performance as much as two shared consonants. Experiment 2 altered the syllabic position of the overlapping phonemes and found shared syllabic position was necessary to impair recall of the target word. It is argued these results show that not all phonological overlap is equally detrimental and specific psycholinguistic conditions are necessary to produce interference that impairs recall performance.

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