Is working memory span linked to recall of disfluencies in spontaneous speech?
(2016) Is working memory span linked to recall of disfluencies in spontaneous speech?, no. 60.
The regularity with which speech disfluencies are produced in spontaneous speech has led researchers to examine their effect on listener comprehension. Bard and Lickley (1998) and Young (2013) propose that listeners have trouble recalling repetition and deletion disfluencies in spontaneous speech due to the influence of processes in the working memory, and a lack of context to support word recognition. Following a similar rationale to that of Bard and Lickley (1998) and Young (2013), this study aims to discover the extent to which listeners recall repetition and deletion disfluencies in spontaneous speech. Furthermore, the influence of working memory span on the recall of these types of disfluencies will be explored. Working memory span has been implicated in the performance of a number of language-based tasks (Daneman and Carpenter 1980). Therefore, it is pertinent to discover its influence in this subject area. Spontaneous speech utterances were carefully edited to create four different types of stimuli: onset, fluent, repetition and deletion. Participants listened to and transcribed six of each type of stimulus, and twenty-four fluent distractor stimuli. A battery of working memory tasks were also carried out. The results showed that listener recall of repetition and deletion disfluencies was significantly lower than recall of fluent sections of speech. Additionally, it was found that reparanda ending in fragment words led to lower rates of recall in deletion disfluencies when compared with whole words in the same position. Finally, a positive correlation was discovered between working memory span and listener recall of deletion disfluencies. The findings of this study suggest that listeners have difficulty recalling sections of speech containing repetition and deletion disfluencies. This is attributed to the absence of context to support word recognition and the influence of the Phonological Similarity Effect and the Irrelevant Speech Effect in working memory. Furthermore, the results suggest that working memory span influences listeners' ability to recall deletion disfluencies in spontaneous speech.