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  • 1.
    Hughes, Robert
    et al.
    Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London.
    Marsh, John
    School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire.
    The Functional Determinants of Short-Term Memory: Evidence From Perceptual-Motor Interference in Verbal Serial Recall2017In: Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory and Cognition, ISSN 0278-7393, E-ISSN 1939-1285, Vol. 43, no 4, p. 537-551Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    A functional, perceptual-motor, account of serial short-term memory is examined by investigating the way in which an irrelevant spoken sequence interferes with verbal serial recall. Even with visual list-presentation, verbal serial recall is particularly susceptible to disruption by irrelevant spoken stimuli that have the same identity as - but which are order-incongruent with - the to-be-remembered items. We test the view that such interference is due to the obligatory perceptual organization of the spoken stimuli yielding a sequence that competes with a subvocal motor-plan assembled to support the reproduction of the to-be-remembered list. In support of this view, the interference can be eliminated without changing either the identities or objective serial order of the spoken stimuli but merely by promoting a subjective perceptual organization that strips them of their order-incongruent relation to the to-be-remembered list (Experiment 1). The interference is also eliminated if subvocal motor sequence-planning is impeded via articulatory suppression (Experiment 2). The results are in line with the view that performance-limits in verbal serial short-term memory are due to having to exploit perceptual and motor processes for purposes for which they did not evolve, not the inherently limited capacity of structures or mechanisms dedicated to storage.

  • 2.
    Hughes, Robert W.
    et al.
    Deparment of Psychology, University of London, Egham, UK.
    Marsh, John Everett
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building Engineering, Energy Systems and Sustainability Science, Environmental Science. School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.
    When is forewarned forearmed?: Predicting auditory distraction in short-term memory2019In: Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory and Cognition, ISSN 0278-7393, E-ISSN 1939-1285Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Two experiments critically examined a predictive-coding based account of the vulnerability of short-term memory to auditory distraction, particularly the disruptive effect of changing-state sound on verbal serial recall. Experiment 1 showed that providing participants with the opportunity to predict the contents of an imminent spoken distractor sentence via a forewarning reduced its particularly disruptive effect but only to the same level of disruption as that produced by ‘simpler’ changing-state sequences (a sequence of letter-names). Moreover, a post-categorically unpredictable changing-state sequence (e.g., “F, B, H, E …”) was no more disruptive than a post-categorically predictable sequence (“A, B, C, D …”). Experiment 2 showed that a sentence distractor was disruptive regardless of whether participants reported adopting a serial rehearsal strategy to perform the focal task (in this case, a missing-item task) whereas, critically, the disruptive effect of simpler changing-state sequences was only found in participants who reported using a serial rehearsal strategy. Moreover, when serial rehearsal was not used to perform the focal task, the disruptive effect of sentences was completely abolished by a forewarning. These results indicate that predictability plays no role in the classical changing-state irrelevant sound effect and that foreknowledge selectively attenuates a functionally distinct stimulus-specific attentional-diversion effect. As such, the results are at odds with a unitary, attentional, account of auditory distraction in short-term memory and instead strongly support a duplex-mechanism account.

  • 3.
    Marsh, John E.
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental psychology. University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.
    Hughes, Robert W.
    Royal Holloway University of London, Department of Psychology, Egham, United Kingdom .
    Sörqvist, Patrik
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental psychology.
    Beaman, Charles P.
    University of Reading, School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, Reading, United Kingdom.
    Jones, Dylan M.
    Cardiff University, School of Psychology, Cardiff, United Kingdom.
    Erroneous and Veridical Recall Are Not Two Sides of the Same Coin: Evidence From Semantic Distraction in Free Recall2015In: Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory and Cognition, ISSN 0278-7393, E-ISSN 1939-1285, Vol. 41, no 6, p. 1728-1740Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Two experiments examined the extent to which erroneous recall blocks veridical recall using, as a vehicle for study, the disruptive impact of distractors that are semantically similar to a list of words presented for free recall. Instructing participants to avoid erroneous recall of to-be-ignored spoken distractors attenuated their recall but this did not influence the disruptive effect of those distractors on veridical recall (Experiment 1). Using an externalized output-editing procedure-whereby participants recalled all items that came to mind and identified those that were erroneous-the usual between-sequences semantic similarity effect on erroneous and veridical recall was replicated but the relationship between the rate of erroneous and veridical recall was weak (Experiment 2). The results suggest that forgetting is not due to veridical recall being blocked by similar events.

  • 4.
    Marsh, John
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental psychology. University of Central Lancashire, Preston, United Kingdom.
    Sörqvist, Patrik
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental psychology. Linköping University.
    Hodgetts, Helen
    École de psychologie, Université Laval, Canada; Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK.
    Beaman, Philip
    University of Reading, UK.
    Jones, Dylan
    Cardiff University, UK.
    Distraction control processes in free recall: benefits and costs to performance2015In: Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory and Cognition, ISSN 0278-7393, E-ISSN 1939-1285, Vol. 41, no 1, p. 118-133Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    How is semantic memory influenced by individual differences under conditions of distraction? This question was addressed by observing how participants recalled visual target words—drawn from a single category—while ignoring spoken distractor words that were members of either the same or a different (single) category. Working memory capacity (WMC) was related to disruption only with synchronous, not asynchronous, presentation, and distraction was greater when the words were presented synchronously. Subsequent experiments found greater negative priming of distractors among individuals with higher WMC, but this may be dependent on targets and distractors being comparable category exemplars. With less dominant category members as distractors, target recall was impaired—relative to control—only among individuals with low WMC. The results highlight the role of cognitive control resources in target–distractor selection and the individual-specific cost implications of such cognitive control.

  • 5.
    Marsh, John
    et al.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental psychology. School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, England.
    Yang, Jingqi
    School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, England.
    Qualter, Pamela
    School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, England.
    Richardson, Cassandra
    School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, England.
    Perham, Nick
    Department of Applied Psychology, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, Wales.
    Vachon, François
    School of Psychology, Université Laval, Québec, Canada.
    Hughes, Robert W.
    Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London, London, England.
    Post-Categorical Auditory Distraction in Serial Short-Term Memory: Insights from Increased Task-Load and Task-Type2018In: Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory and Cognition, ISSN 0278-7393, E-ISSN 1939-1285, Vol. 44, no 6, p. 882-897Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Task-irrelevant speech impairs short-term serial recall appreciably. On the interference-by-process account, the processing of physical (i.e., precategorical) changes in speech yields order cues that conflict with the serial-ordering process deployed to perform the serial recall task. In this view, the postcategorical properties (e.g., phonology, meaning) of speech play no role. The present study reassessed the implications of recent demonstrations of auditory postcategorical distraction in serial recall that have been taken as support for an alternative, attentional-diversion, account of the irrelevant speech effect. Focusing on the disruptive effect of emotionally valent compared with neutral words on serial recall, we show that the distracter-valence effect is eliminated under conditions—high task-encoding load—thought to shield against attentional diversion whereas the general effect of speech (neutral words compared with quiet) remains unaffected (Experiment 1). Furthermore, the distracter-valence effect generalizes to a task that does not require the processing of serial order—the missing-item task—whereas the effect of speech per se is attenuated in this task (Experiment 2). We conclude that postcategorical auditory distraction phenomena in serial short-term memory (STM) are incidental: they are observable in such a setting but, unlike the acoustically driven irrelevant speech effect, are not integral to it. As such, the findings support a duplex-mechanism account over a unitary view of auditory distraction.

  • 6.
    Vachon, Francois
    et al.
    École de psychologie, Université Laval, Quebec City, Canada.
    Labonte, Katherine
    École de psychologie, Université Laval, Quebec City, Canada.
    Marsh, John E.
    University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental psychology. University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, England.
    Attentional capture by deviant sounds: a noncontingent form of auditory distraction?2017In: Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory and Cognition, ISSN 0278-7393, E-ISSN 1939-1285, Vol. 43, no 4, p. 622-634Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The occurrence of an unexpected, infrequent sound in an otherwise homogeneous auditory background tends to disrupt the ongoing cognitive task. This "deviation effect" is typically explained in terms of attentional capture whereby the deviant sound draws attention away from the focal activity, regardless of the nature of this activity. Yet, there is theoretical and empirical evidence suggesting that the attention-capture mechanism underlying this form of distraction could rather be triggered in a task-contingent fashion. The present study aimed at determining whether the auditory deviation effect reflects the action of either a stimulus-driven or a task-contingent orienting mechanism. To do so, we conducted a systematic investigation whereby the impact of verbal deviants-a letter embedded in the repetition of another letter-and spatial deviants-a sound presented contralaterally to the other sounds-on verbal and spatial short-term memory (STM) was assessed. This study established that both verbal and spatial deviants can hinder both verbal and spatial order-reconstruction (Experiment 1) and missing-item tasks (Experiment 2). Such results demonstrate that the deviation effect reflects a general form of auditory distraction as interference took place both within and across domains and regardless of the processes engaged in the focal task.

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