Episodic Long-Term Memory of Spoken Discourse Masked by Speech: What Is the Role for Working Memory Capacity? PurposeTo investigate whether working memory capacity (WMC) modulates the effects of to-be-ignored speech on the memory of materials conveyed by to-be-attended speech.MethodTwo tasks (reading span, Daneman & Carpenter, 1980; Rönnberg et al., 2008; and size-comparison span, Sörqvist, Ljungberg, & Ljung, 2010) were used to measure individual differences in WMC. Episodic ... Article
Article  |   February 01, 2012
Episodic Long-Term Memory of Spoken Discourse Masked by Speech: What Is the Role for Working Memory Capacity?
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Patrik Sörqvist
    Linnaeus Centre HEAD, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
  • Jerker Rönnberg
    Linnaeus Centre HEAD, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
  • Correspondence to Patrik Sörqvist: patrik.sorqvist@hig.se
  • Editor: Sid Bacon
    Editor: Sid Bacon×
  • Associate Editor: Marjorie Leek
    Associate Editor: Marjorie Leek×
Article Information
Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Hearing
Article   |   February 01, 2012
Episodic Long-Term Memory of Spoken Discourse Masked by Speech: What Is the Role for Working Memory Capacity?
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2012, Vol. 55, 210-218. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0353)
History: Received December 16, 2010 , Revised March 3, 2011 , Accepted June 16, 2011
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2012, Vol. 55, 210-218. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0353)
History: Received December 16, 2010; Revised March 3, 2011; Accepted June 16, 2011
Web of Science® Times Cited: 25

PurposeTo investigate whether working memory capacity (WMC) modulates the effects of to-be-ignored speech on the memory of materials conveyed by to-be-attended speech.

MethodTwo tasks (reading span, Daneman & Carpenter, 1980; Rönnberg et al., 2008; and size-comparison span, Sörqvist, Ljungberg, & Ljung, 2010) were used to measure individual differences in WMC. Episodic long-term memory of spoken discourse was measured by requesting participants to listen to stories masked either by normal speech or by a rotated version of that speech and to subsequently answer questions on the content of the stories.

ResultsNormal speech impaired performance on the episodic long-term memory test, and both WMC tasks were negatively related to this effect, indicating that individuals with high WMC are less susceptible to disruption. Moreover, further analyses revealed that size-comparison span (a task that requires resolution of semantic confusion by inhibition processes) is a stronger predictor of the effect than is reading span.

ConclusionsCognitive control processes support listening in adverse conditions. In particular, inhibition processes acting to resolve semantic confusion seem to underlie the relationship between WMC and susceptibility to distraction from masking speech.

Acknowledgments
We would like to thank Mattias Hällgren for technical support with the sound materials.
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