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ERIC Number: EJ993130
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Nov
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 78
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Habituation of the Irrelevant Sound Effect: Evidence for an Attentional Theory of Short-Term Memory Disruption
Bell, Raoul; Roer, Jan P.; Dentale, Sandra; Buchner, Axel
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v38 n6 p1542-1557 Nov 2012
Immediate serial recall is seriously disrupted by to-be-ignored sound. According to the embedded-processes model, auditory distractors elicit attentional orienting that draws processing resources away from the recall task. The model predicts that interference should be attenuated after repeated exposure to the auditory distractors. Previous failures to observe evidence for habituation can be explained by assuming that habituation to complex distractor features depends on the availability of working memory resources. Here we demonstrate that the irrelevant sound effect is attenuated after passive listening to the auditory distractors during a preexposure phase prior to the serial recall task. Experiment 1 shows that the irrelevant sound effect is abolished after 20 min of passive listening to the distractor speech. Experiments 2-4 show that irrelevant sound interference is significantly reduced after listening to distractors for 45 s. As predicted by the habituation hypothesis, an attenuation of interference occurs only when the distractor material matches the material played in the preexposure phase (Experiment 5). The results support an attentional conceptualization of the irrelevant sound effect. (Contains 5 figures, 3 tables, and 2 footnotes.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Germany