Phonological similarity effects in verbal complex span

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Phonological similarity effects were used to assess the role of acoustic coding in verbal complex span, a processing-plus-storage measure found to correlate significantly with aspects of complex cognition. Three experiments demonstrated consistent effects of phonological similarity on listening span. These effects appeared relatively insensitive to manipulations of task materials (Experiment 1) and differences in processing task demands (Experiments 2 and 3). The results were interpreted as reflecting a significant role for the phonological loop in supporting verbal complex span and a multicomponent view of working memory, as tapped by these tests. Phonological similarity did not significantly interact with aspects of the tasks varied across Experiments 1 to 3, suggesting a relative robustness of the effect. However, variation in the phonological similarity effect sizes across Experiments 1 to 3 supports the suggestion that task demands and characteristics have the potential to disrupt the phonological similarity effect and, by implication, the reliance on a phonological code.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1462-1478
Number of pages17
JournalThe Quarterly journal of experimental psychology. A, Human experimental psychology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Phonetics
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Serial Learning
  • Speech Perception
  • Verbal Learning

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