Effects of subvocal suppression, articulating aloud and noise on sequence recall


Department of Psychology, Bedford College, University of London, Regent's Park, London NW1 4NS.


Subjects were required to reproduce in order a sequence of five letters; the set of letters was known so only memory for sequence was tested. Experiment 1 showed that suppressing subvocal rehearsal by saying ‘the’ continuously during list presentation and until recall depressed performance to the same level on acoustically confusable and non-confusable lists. Listening to 85 dBC white noise during list presentation improved performance on acoustically confusable lists in non-suppression conditions and had no effect in suppression conditions. The result refutes the hypothesis that noise suppresses inner speech. Expts 2, 3 and 4 showed that articulating the items aloud during list presentation and until recall improved performance when lists were presented at 1/2 s per item and depressed it when they were presented at 2 s per item. Improvement occurred under 85 dBC white noise in Expts 2 and 4, but the improvement was only significant in non-articulation conditions. It is suggested that noise increases subvocal articulation and that both noise and articulation increase maintenance rehearsal at the expense of elaboration rehearsal.