Maintenance rehearsal and the articulatory loop


School of Behavioural Science, Newcastle Polytechnic, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK.


Watkins & Watkins (1974) observed that free recall performance of terminal items improved significantly when subjects were given explicit instructions about the length of each list of words. They argued that this was consistent with subjects switching to maintenance rehearsal when the end of the list approached. The present experiment investigated whether knowledge of list length would still be of value when subjects had to articulate an irrelevant word during learning, in order to investigate whether an articulatory loop of the kind proposed by Baddeley & Hitch (1974) might be used during maintenance rehearsal. Results showed, however, that while articulatory suppression significantly reduced overall levels of recall, it did not affect the performance of the informed group any more than that of the uninformed group. It is therefore concluded that maintenance rehearsal is most likely to be controlled by the non-articulatory part of working memory.