Deterioration and Recovery in Verbal Recall: Repetition Helps against Pro-Active Interference

Lange-Kuettner, Christiane, Markowska, Monika and Ridhi, Kochhar (2018) Deterioration and Recovery in Verbal Recall: Repetition Helps against Pro-Active Interference. Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling, 59 (4). pp. 405-441. ISSN 2190-0507


The current study tests whether memory deterioration due to pro-active interference (PI) in verbal recall could be halted via block repetition potentially leading to an increased memory consolidation. We also tested whether bilinguals would be better shielded against memory deterioration than monolinguals because they constantly need to enrich their vocabulary to compensate for their smaller lexica in either language. We tested monolinguals and balanced bilinguals with an N-Back and a free verbal recall task. Repetition showed a significant main effect with a large effect size. In Study 1 (N=45), monolingual men showed less improvement in the repetition blocks, while bilingual men showed a significant doubling of their word recall on each repetition. In Study 2 (N=78), monolingual women were less likely to use the repetition opportunity to improve the word score. Thus, in both studies, a significant monolingual disadvantage showed. When the two data sets were merged (N=123), statistical effects showed that the single word list repetition had successfully and significantly increased resistance to PI, but all individual differences due to bilingualism and sex had disappeared. This supported a previous meta-analysis showing that a monolingual disadvantage does not hold in large samples with N > 100 (Paap effect).

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