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Literacy effects on auditory verbal memory - ​Prof. Régine Kolinsky

September 13th, 2016 - 12:00 at Room 272, Faculty of Education Building, University of Haifa

Régine Kolinsky
Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique-FNRS, Belgium
Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium

A large set of data support the view that literacy impacts speech processing, including through spelling knowledge. I will first briefly illustrate this idea, and then present data from two sets of experiments suggesting that the same holds true for auditory verbal memory.

In the first set of experiments, we compared beginning readers with pre-readers. With children, we used a “cut-off” design that takes advantage of arbitrary dates determining when they enter school and compared first graders with either same-age kindergarteners or older children of the same school level. We observed schooling effects on two (short-term and working) auditory memory tasks, with no age effect. In a separate experiment, we tracked illiterate adults’ performance during a three-months literacy course, and observed a modest but significant improvement of auditory verbal memory.

In the second set of experiments, we considered more specifically the role of spelling knowledge on the immediate serial recall of spoken words. In both children and adults, an effect of orthographic similarity was observed with phonologically similar words: wordlists in which the rhyme corresponded to different spellings were better recalled than wordlists in which the rhyme had the same spelling. In addition, the children data showed that spelling knowledge impacts only the recall of item information, not the recall of serial order. Finally, I will report preliminary data from a study examining whether new, very recently acquired, spelling representations may also support auditory verbal memory.