Effects of same-modality interference on immediate serial recall of auditory and visual information

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Turner, Marilyn L.
Johnson, S. K.
McNamara, D. S.
Engle, R. W.

The Journal of general psychology. 1992 Jul; 119(3): 247-63.


Two studies investigated the effects of same-modality interference on the immediate serial recall of auditorily and visually presented stimuli. Typically, research in which this task is used has been conducted in quiet rooms, excluding auditory information that is extraneous to the auditorily presented stimuli. However, visual information such as background items clearly within the subject's view have not been excluded during visual presentation. Therefore, in both the present studies, the authors used procedures that eliminated extra-list visual interference and introduced extra-list auditory interference. When same-modality interference was eliminated, weak visual recency effects were found, but they were smaller than those that were generated by auditorily presented items. Further, mid-list and end-of-list recall of visually presented stimuli was unaffected by the amount of interfering visual information. On the other hand, the introduction of auditory interference increased mid-list recall of auditory stimuli. The results of Experiment 2 showed that the mid-list effect occurred with a moderate, but not with a minimal or maximal, level of auditory interference, indicating that moderate amounts of auditory interference had an alerting effect that is not present in typical visual interference.

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