Being a working mother of three children and attending Penn State World Campus full time has proved to be quite challenging. As the courses are being increasingly difficult, I am finding it harder and harder to study vocabulary words while my children are up and about. I have found myself preferring to either work very late into the night, or waking up extremely early in order to get my studies done. I had always assumed it was better to study in quiet, but never really knew the phenomenon that was happening in my own head: the articulatory suppression effect on my phonological loop.
We have learned that the phonological loop is where verbal information is stored, and where everything we try to commit to memory is first contained (Goldstein, 2011). When listening to an online lecture or any other information that is coming at us verbally and trying to retain what it is saying, we are using our phonological loop. This component of working memory only lasts a few seconds, and the incoming information must be refreshed in the phonological loop in order for us to retain the relevant information (Goldstein, 2011). In order to properly retain the information of the vocabulary words that I try to remember and repeat over and over in my head, and I find myself having a hard time retaining the information because of the constant sounds of my children chatting or playing.
The articulatory suppression effect is a phenomenon that interrupts the phonological loop and reduces memory retention. It is usually demonstrated in a laboratory setting (we all had an experience of that with our CogLab) and occurs when a word is repeated over and over again while one is trying to remember a separate list of words (Goldstein, 2011). I can compare this phenomenon to my life, because when I am trying to memorize a list of definitions and terms for my classes, I am using my phonological loop and the articulatory suppression effect occurs when my noisy children interrupt the processes going on in my head. They prohibit me from converting the information to long-term memory and although the sounds they produce are not the same repetitive sounds, the concept in itself is very similar. Their verbal interruptions interfere with my rehearsal and memorization, so I have found that it is better to study in the quiet of the late night or early morning when I have the best opportunity to store information without articulatory suppression.
Goldstein, E. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience (3rd ed.). Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.