Nohsook Park & Randi C. Martin
Potter and Lombardi (1990) claimed that immediate sentence recall was based on regeneration of the sentence from a representation of its meaning, incorporating recently activated lexical representations. They specifically ruled out a contribution from an ordered phonological representation like that used in the recall of random word lists. Their assertion was based on findings showing that semantically related lure words (e.g., "castle") replaced target words (e.g., "palace") during sentence recall when these lure words were embedded in memory lists that preceded or followed the sentence. They argued that such substitutions should not occur if subjects used a phonological representation as the basis of recall. However, their results did not rule out the possibility of some contribution of phonology. Two experiments were conducted to address this possibility, adopting Potter and Lombardi's paradigm. Lure words were used that were either only semantically related (S) to the target words or both semantically and phonologically related (SP). The S and SP lures were matched on a number of factors that might influence their substitution in the sentences. If phonological information plays a role during sentence repetition, the intrusion rate with SP words should be higher than with S words; if only semantic information plays a role, then the intrusion rates with S words and SP words should be the same.
Sentences and word lists were presented using either rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) or auditory presentation. In Experiment 1, the word lists preceded the sentences (MS order), whereas in Experiment 2, the word lists followed the sentences (SM order). Significantly greater SP than S intrusions were found in both experiments (Exp.1: 21% vs. 7%; Exp.2: 29% vs. 18%). Combining across lure conditions, there were more intrusions in the auditory than the visual modality when the memory lists followed the sentences, but approximately equal intrusion rates when the lists preceded the sentences. This latter finding also supports the notion that phonological representations are involved in immediate memory for sentences since one would expect greater phonological interference from auditorily presented memory lists that follow the sentences. We conclude that phonological representations, in addition to conceptual and lexical representations, contribute to immediate sentence recall.
Potter, M., & Lombardi, L. (1990). Regeneration in the short-term recall of sentences. Journal of Memory and Language, 29, 633-654.