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The company a word keeps: the role of neighbourhood density in verbal short-term memory

Greeno, David J. ORCID:, Macken, Bill ORCID: and Jones, Dylan M. ORCID: 2022. The company a word keeps: the role of neighbourhood density in verbal short-term memory. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 75 (11) , pp. 2159-2176. 10.1177/17470218221080398

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Psycholinguistic information plays an important role in verbal memory over the short-term (vSTM). One such linguistic feature is neighbourhood density (ND)—the number of words that can be derived from a given word by changing a single phoneme or single letter—so that vSTM performance is better when word sequences are from dense rather than sparse neighbourhoods, an effect attributed to higher levels of supportive activation among neighbouring words. Generally, it has been assumed that lexical variables influence item memory but not order memory, and we show that the typical vSTM advantage for dense neighbourhood words in serial recall is eliminated when using serial recognition. However, we also show that the usual effect of ND is reversed—for both serial recall and serial recognition—when using a subset of those same words. The findings call into question the way in which ND has been incorporated into accounts of vSTM that invoke mutual support from long-term representations on either encoding or retrieval.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 0033-555X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 December 2021
Date of Acceptance: 30 November 2021
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2022 07:16

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