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Phonological loop

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The phonological loop, also called the phonetic loop or the articulatory loop, is the part of working memory that rehearses verbal information. It consists of two parts: a short-term phonological store with auditory memory traces that are subject to rapid decay and an articulatory rehearsal component that can revive the memory traces.The first component is a phonological memory store which can hold traces of acoustic or speech based material. Material in this short term store lasts about two seconds unless it is maintained through the use of the second subcomponent, articulatory subvocal rehearsal. Prevention of articulatory rehearsal results in very rapid forgetting (a process known as decay).

When a song or tune gets latched onto the phonological loop, it is rehearsed in a constant loop. This is to prevent decay. This explains why sometimes, you can't seem to get a song out of your head. The best way to overcome this phenomenon is to distract your attention away from the tune. This will allow the natural process of decay to rapidly set in on the memory, thereby ending the rehearsal process.

Any auditory verbal information is assumed to enter automatically into the phonological store. Visually presented language can be transformed into phonological code by silent articulation and thereby be encoded into the phonological store. This transformation is facilitated by the articulatory control process. The phonological store acts as an 'inner ear', remembering speech sounds in their temporal order, whilst the articulatory process acts as an 'inner voice' and repeats the series of words (or other speech elements) on a loop to prevent them from decaying. The phonological loop may play a key role in the acquisition of vocabulary, particularly in the early childhood years.[1] It may also be vital for learning a second language.

Five main findings provide evidence for the phonological loop:

  1. The effect of phonological similarity:
    Lists of words that sound similar are more difficult to remember than words that sound different. Semantic similarity (similarity of meaning) has comparatively little effect, supporting the assumption that verbal information is coded largely phonologically in working memory.[2]
  2. The effect of articulatory suppression:
    Memory for verbal material is impaired when people are asked to say something irrelevant aloud. This is assumed to block the articulatory rehearsal process, thereby leaving memory traces in the phonological loop to decay.[3]
  3. Transfer of information between codes:
    With visually presented items, adults usually name and sub-vocally rehearse them, so the information is transferred from a visual to an auditory code. Articulatory suppression prevents this transfer, and in that case the above mentioned effect of phonological similarity is erased for visually presented items.[4]
  4. Neuropsychological evidence:
    A defective phonological store explains the behavior of patients with a specific deficit in phonological short-term memory. Aphasic patients with dyspraxia are unable to set up the speech motor codes necessary for articulation, caused by a deficiency of the articulatory rehearsal process.[5]
  5. On the other hand, patients with dysarthria, whose speech problems are secondary, show a normal capacity for rehearsal. This suggests that it is the subvocal rehearsing that is crucial.[6]

See alsoEdit

References & BibliographyEdit

  1. Baddeley A, Gathercole S, Papagno C (January 1998). The phonological loop as a language learning device. Psychol Rev 105 (1): 158–73.
  2. a) Conrad. R. & Hull, A.J. (1964) Information, acoustic confusion and memory span. British Journal of Psychology. 55, 429–432.
    b) Baddeley, A.D. (1966) Short-term memory for word sequences as a function of acoustic, semantic and formal similarity. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 18, 362–365.
  3. Baddeley, A.D. et al. (1975). Word length and the structure of short-term memory. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 14, 575–589.
  4. Murray, D.J. (1968). Articulation and acoustic confusability in short term memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology 78, 679–684
  5. Waters, G.F. et al. (1992). The role of high-level speech planning in rehearsal: Evidence from patients with apraxia of speech. Journal of Memory and Language 31, 54–73.
  6. Baddeley, A.D. & Wilson, B.A. (1985). Phonological coding and shortterm memory in patients without speech. Journal of Memory and Language 24, 490–502.

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