Effects of secondary tasks on quality of chess-move selection in stronger and weaker players. Adapted from Robbins et al. (1996).

The phonological loop is more complex than was assumed by Baddeley and Hitch (1974). For example, although Baddeley et al. (1975) found that articulatory suppression eliminated the word-length effect with visual presentation, it did not do so with auditory presentation (see Figure 6.5). Vallar and Baddeley (1984) studied a patient, PV, who did not seem to use the articulatory loop when tested on memory span. Her memory span for visually presented letters remained the same whether or not articulation was prevented by an articulatory suppression task, and there was also evidence that she did not use articulation with spoken letters. However, her memory span for spoken letters was worse when the letters were phonologically similar (i.e., they sounded alike). Thus, PV seemed to be processing phonologically (in a speech-based manner), but without making use of articulation.

Baddeley (1986, 1990) drew a distinction between a phonological or speech-based store and an articulatory control process (see Figure 6.6). According to Baddeley, the phonological loop consists of:

• A passive phonological store directly concerned with speech perception.

• An articulatory process linked to speech production that gives access to the phonological store.

According to this revised account, words that are presented auditorily are processed differently from those presented visually. Auditory presentation of words produces direct access to the phonological store regardless of whether the articulatory control process is used. In contrast, visual presentation of words only permits indirect access to the phonological store through subvocal articulation (see Chapter 11).

This revised account makes sense of many findings. Suppose the word-length effect observed by Baddeley et al. (1975) depends on the rate of articulatory rehearsal (see Figure 6.5). Articulatory suppression eliminates the word-length effect with visual presentation because access to the phonological store is prevented. It does not affect the word-length effect with auditory presentation, because information about the words enters the phonological store directly.

Immediate word recall as a function of modality of presentation (visual vs. auditory), presence versus absence of articulatory suppression, and word length. Adapted from Baddeley et al. (1975).

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