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Verbal working memory and linguistic long-term memory: Exploring the lexical cohort effect


Kowialiewski, Benjamin; Majerus, Steve (2019). Verbal working memory and linguistic long-term memory: Exploring the lexical cohort effect. Memory & Cognition, 47(5):997-1011.

Abstract

Numerous studies have shown that verbal working memory (vWM) performance is strongly influenced by linguistic knowledge, with items more familiar at sublexical, lexical, and/or semantic levels leading to higher vWM recall performance. Among the many different psycholinguistic variables whose impact on vWM has been studied, the lexical cohort effect is one of the few effects that has not yet been explored. The lexical cohort effect reflects the fact that words sharing their first phonemes with many other words (e.g. alcove, alligator, alcohol…) are typically responded to more slowly as compared to words sharing their first phonemes with a smaller number of words. In a pilot experiment (Experiment 1), we manipulated the lexical cohort effect in an immediate serial recall task and found no effect. Experiment 2 showed that, in a lexical decision task, participants responded more quickly to items stemming from small cohorts, showing that the material used in Experiment 1 allowed for a valid manipulation of the cohort effect. Experiment 3, using stimuli from Experiment 2 associated with maximal cohort effects during lexical decision, failed again to reveal a cohort effect in an immediate serial recall task. We argue that linguistic knowledge impacts vWM performance via continuous interactive activation within the linguistic system, which is not the case for the lexical cohort variable that may influence language processing only at the initial stages of stimulus activation.

Abstract

Numerous studies have shown that verbal working memory (vWM) performance is strongly influenced by linguistic knowledge, with items more familiar at sublexical, lexical, and/or semantic levels leading to higher vWM recall performance. Among the many different psycholinguistic variables whose impact on vWM has been studied, the lexical cohort effect is one of the few effects that has not yet been explored. The lexical cohort effect reflects the fact that words sharing their first phonemes with many other words (e.g. alcove, alligator, alcohol…) are typically responded to more slowly as compared to words sharing their first phonemes with a smaller number of words. In a pilot experiment (Experiment 1), we manipulated the lexical cohort effect in an immediate serial recall task and found no effect. Experiment 2 showed that, in a lexical decision task, participants responded more quickly to items stemming from small cohorts, showing that the material used in Experiment 1 allowed for a valid manipulation of the cohort effect. Experiment 3, using stimuli from Experiment 2 associated with maximal cohort effects during lexical decision, failed again to reveal a cohort effect in an immediate serial recall task. We argue that linguistic knowledge impacts vWM performance via continuous interactive activation within the linguistic system, which is not the case for the lexical cohort variable that may influence language processing only at the initial stages of stimulus activation.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
Language:English
Date:2019
Deposited On:12 Apr 2022 14:09
Last Modified:13 Apr 2022 20:00
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0090-502X
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-019-00898-5
PubMed ID:30659518