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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1999 Jan;25(1):84-95.

Phonotactic influences on short-term memory.

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Department of Psychology, University of Bristol, England.


The impact of phonotactic probabilities on serial recall was investigated in a series of experiments. In Experiments 1A and 1B, 7 and 8 year olds were tested on their serial recall of monosyllabic words and of nonwords varying in phonotactic frequencies. A recall advantage to words over nonwords remained when stimuli were balanced for phonotactic probability, but nonword recall showed superior accuracy for high over low probability nonwords, as in Experiment 2. The nonword frequency effect appears to reflect the frequency of constituent syllables rather than biphones. Both lexicality and high phonotactic frequency led to increased proportions of full over partial recall of the memory stimuli. These findings indicate that decayed memory traces in phonological short-term memory can be reconstructed using either lexical or phonotactic knowledge.

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