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Working memory still needs verbal rehearsal

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Lucidi Annalisa, Langerock Naomi, Hoareau Violette, Lemaire Benoit, Camos Valerie, Barrouillet Pierre,
Project What is attentional refreshing?
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Memory and Cognition
Title of proceedings Memory and Cognition
DOI 10.3758/s13421-015-0561-z


The causal role of verbal rehearsal in working memory has recently been called into question. For example, the SOB-CS model assumes that there is no maintenance process for the strengthening of items in working memory, but instead a process of removal of distractors that are involuntarily encoded and create interference with memory items. In the present study, we tested the idea that verbal working memory performance can be accounted for without assuming a causal role of the verbal rehearsal process. We demonstrate in two experiments using a complex span task and a Brown-Peterson paradigm that increasing the number of repetitions of the same distractor (the syllable ba that was read aloud at each of its occurrences on screen) has a detrimental effect on the concurrent maintenance of consonants whereas the maintenance of spatial locations remains unaffected. A detailed analysis of the tasks demonstrates that accounting for this effect within the SOB-CS model requires a series of unwarranted assumptions leading to undesirable further predictions contradicted by available experimental evidence. We argue that the hypothesis of a maintenance mechanism based on verbal rehearsal that is impeded by concurrent articulation still provides the simplest and most compelling account of our results.