Relations between language and memory: The Case of Repetition Deafness

Michelle D. Miller, Donald G. MacKay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Immediate recall decreases for repeated relative to unrepeated words in rapidly presented spoken lists, a phenomenon knoWn as repetition deafness (RD) The present study examines RD as a test case for a distributed memory account of relations between language and memory. Within the distributed memory framework, general connection-formation processes required for language comprehension influence repetition deficits in sentences. Thus, RD should increase as a function of factors, such as listlike sentence prosody, that disrupt the formation of Word-to-phrase links. Also under this account, repetition blindness and RD in sentences should display fundamentally similar characteristics (e.g., relative insensitivity to low-level sensory differences between the repeated words). Using innovative procedures for computer sound manipulation, the present study obtained data supporting both predictions: RD increased for sentences generated with listlike versus normal prosody, but did not differ reliably for acoustically similar versus dissimilar repeated words. Implications of these data for the general issue of relations between language and memory are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-351
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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