Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. James Tromater


Sperling (1963) noted that some subjects (Ss) stated they could "hear" material being held in short-term storage, and he suggested that short_term memory (STM) for verbal materials may be in the form of an auditory loop. The first major laboratory investigations of this topic were made by Conrad (1962;1964) who examined the errors made in immediate recall, and found that substitution errors tend to involve units that sound alike (acoustically-similar), even when the original stimuli were visual. He concluded that visual letters are recorded into auditory representations, which may subsequently be confused with one author. The auditory, or at least linguistic characters of immediate memory has been impressively documented in a series of studies by Wickelgren, who demonstrated that phonetically similar letters impair recall in botch a "retroactive (1965a) and a "proactive" (1966a) design. "Intralist" inhibition also appeared in a study (1965b) which found a high error rate in lists composed of letters that sound somewhat alike. Auditory similarity even affected STM when a method of recognition was employed, so that the subject need only say whether a particular test letter or was not present in a preceding series (Wickelgren, 1965c; 1966b). These studies represent an explicit link between speech perception and immediate memory. The confusions among similar sounding letters cannot be ascribed to errors made in hearing them originally, since Wickelgren's Ss always began by copying the stimulus as it was presented.

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