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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2012 Jul;38(4):1084-90. doi: 10.1037/a0026933. Epub 2012 Jan 23.

Feature migration in time: reflection of selective attention on speech errors.

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Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, and Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


This article describes an initial study of the effect of focused attention on phonological speech errors. In 3 experiments, participants recited 4-word tongue twisters and focused attention on 1 (or none) of the words. The attended word was singled out differently in each experiment; participants were under instructions to avoid errors on the attended word, to stress it, or to say it silently. The experiments showed that all methods of attending to a word decreased errors on that word, while increasing errors on the surrounding words. However, this error increase did not result from a relative increase in phonemic migrations originating from the attended word. This pattern is inconsistent with conceptualizing attention either as a higher activation of the attended word or greater inhibition of the unattended words throughout the production of the sequence. Instead, it is consistent with a model that presumes that attention exerts its effect at the time of production of the attended word, without lingering effects on the past or the future.

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