The Effect of the Temporal Structure of Spoken Words on Paired-Associate Learning

  • Creel S
  • Dahan D
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In a series of experiments, participants learned to associate
black-and-white shapes with nonsense spoken labels (e.g., ``joop{''}).
When tested on their recognition memory, participants falsely recognized
as correct a shape paired with a label that began with the same sounds
as the shape's original label (onset-overlapping lure; e.g., joob) more
often than a shape paired with a label that overlapped with the original
label at offset (offset-overlapping lure; e.g., choop). Furthermore, the
false-alarm rate was modulated by the phonetic distance between the
sounds that distinguished the original label and the lures. Greater
false-alarm rates to onset-overlapping labels were not predicted by
explicit similarity ratings or by consonant identification and were not
dependent upon label familiarity. The asymmetry at erroneously
recognizing onset- versus offset-overlapping lures remained unchanged as
the presentation of the shape at test was delayed in time, suggesting
that response anticipation based on the first sounds of the spoken label
did not contribute much to the false recognition of onset-overlapping
lures. Thus, learning 2 words whose names differ in their last sounds
appears to pose greater difficulty than learning 2 words whose names
differ in their first sounds because, we argue, people are biased to
give more importance to the early sounds of a name than to its last
sounds when learning a novel label-referent association.

Author-supplied keywords

  • memory recognition; spoken-word recognition; tempo

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  • Sarah C Creel

  • Delphine Dahan

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