The role of overt language production in the Hebb repetition effect
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The Hebb repetition effect (Hebb, 1961) occurs when recall performance improves for a list that is repeated during a serial-recall task. This effect is considered a good experimental analogue to language learning. Our objective was to evaluate the role of overt language production in language learning by manipulating recall direction during a Hebb repetition paradigm. In each trial, seven nonsense syllables were presented auditorily. Participants had to orally recall the items either in the presentation order or in reverse order. One sequence was repeated every third trial. In Experiment 1, we compared learning from a group that had recalled the items in their presentation order to learning from a group that had recalled the items in the reverse order. The two groups yielded similar learning rates. In Experiment 2, recall direction was varied between trials. The learning rate was not affected when recall direction varied between trials, suggesting a limited role of overt language production in language learning.
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