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Enhancing the production effect in memory

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The production effect is the finding that subsequent memory is better for words that are produced than for words that are not produced. Whereas the current literature demonstrates that reading aloud is the most effective form of production, the distinctiveness account used to explain the production effect predicts that there is nothing special about reading aloud per se: Other forms of vocal production that include an additional distinct element should produce even greater subsequent memory benefits than reading aloud. To test this, we presented participants with study words that they were instructed to read aloud loudly, read aloud, or read silently (Experiment 1); sing, read aloud, or read silently (Experiment 2); and sing, read aloud loudly, read aloud, or read silently (Experiment 3). We observed that both reading items aloud loudly (Experiments 1 and 3) and singing items (Experiments 2 and 3) at study resulted in greater subsequent recognition than reading items aloud in a normal voice; singing had a larger memory benefit than reading aloud loudly (Experiment 3). Our findings support the distinctiveness hypothesis by demonstrating that there are other forms of production, such as singing and reading aloud loudly that have a more pronounced effect on memory than reading aloud.
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Keywords: Distinctiveness; Memory; Production effect; Singing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada

Publication date: November 1, 2013

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