Author Archives: Lisa Werdann

Conversations with the Phonemic Restoration Effect

My sister and I are very close and talk to each other on a daily basis. When we are at family gatherings, or especially on the phone, we speak so quickly that sometimes half of the word gets lost. To others listening to our conversations, it would seem as though we are speaking another language, but we both understand each other perfectly. In fact, my mother often comments about how we need to speak slowly and clearly. She doesn’t understand that we are engaging in the phonemic restoration effect at a high speed and effectively communicating with each other thoroughly.

Words are made up of different components. The two smallest units that make up a word are called phonemes and morphemes. A phoneme is a short piece of speech, usually produced as a sound, and if it were to be changed, the entire meaning of the work would change (Goldstein, 2011). An example of this would be the word cat. The phonemes that make up the word cat are /c/, /a/, and /t/. We can change the phonemes to make an entirely different word. For example, we could change /c/ into a /b/ and make the word bat or change the /a/ into a /u/ and make the word cut. Morphemes are slightly larger than phonemes, and are the “smallest units of language that have definable meaning or a grammatical function” (Goldstein, 2011, p.297). An example of a two morphemes that make up one word would be football. It is one word and can be broken down into two morphemes that mean something; foot and ball. We cannot break down foot any further (fo means nothing to us in the English language, and neither does ot!) so that particular word has only two morphemes.

The phonemic restoration effect is a phenomenon where individuals “fill in” a missing phoneme of a word by using the context of the rest of the sentence to understand what the person is trying to say. My sister and I constantly do this. We speak so fast to each other that there are many times where we leave out ends of words, or abbreviate to a ridiculous degree, that the other has to fill in the missing phonemes and use the rest of the sentence to grasp the meaning of what the other is saying. An example of this would be if I were to say the sentence (and trust me I have said this before) “I m gon go get the kid at schoo cause th bus will be too late n I have to go soon.” When my sister engages in the phonemic restoration effect, she automatically fills in the missing phonemes of /a/, /n/, /a/, /s/, /l/, /e/, /a/ and /d/ when the sentence is completed to create a meaningful sentence of “I am gonna go get the kids at school ’cause the bus will be too late and I have to go soon. She used “kid” and “bus will be too late” and “I have to go soon” to and fill in the missing phonemes and infer what I meant to make sense of the sentence. This phenomenon also occurs when we are on the phone talking and either her children or mine are playing in the background and block out some of the phonemes. We use the phoneme restoration effect constantly to communicate with each other and make sense of where the phonemes either get blocked out or left off.

Works Cited

Goldstein, E. (2011). Language. In Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience (3rd ed.). Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Articulatory Suppression and the College Mom

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.

Works Cited

Goldstein, E. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience (3rd ed.). Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Localization of Function in the Autism Brain

When reading the section for localization of function, I immediately related the material back to my own life. In fact, in many of the sections presented thus far (and in the coming weeks I am sure) I can relate almost everything back to my own life. I have three children, all boys, ages 6, 5 and 3 and all are diagnosed with varying degrees of autism spectrum disorder. While I am sure I will write about all of them quite often, today I am going to focus on my 5 year old, whom I will call AP. AP is profoundly autistic, non-verbal and is low-functioning as of this point in his life. Localization of function was especially interesting to read about, and easy to relate to my little AP from a specific conversation I had with his neurologist.

Localization of function states that specific functions that are carried out by the human body originate in specific areas of the brain (Goldstein, 2011). The lesson gives a good overview of what areas of the brain carry out what functions; like the cerebellum being involved with motor movements and motor learning. It also states that the occipital lobe is for vision, the temporal lobes and for auditory processing, the parietal lobes process sensory information and the frontal lobes have something to do with fine motor control (Lesson 2). Localization of function explains that there are different parts of our brain that process different stimulus, and carry out our reactions to such stimulus. Enter autism.

Autism is a “neurobehavioral disorder that includes impairments in social interaction and developmental language and communication skills combined with rigid, repetitive behaviors.” ( This disorder is often referred to autism spectrum disorder, as it covers many different levels of impairment. Children with autism often have difficulty communicating, understanding others and expressing their thoughts and feelings. Some children may experience a pain or annoyance because the sensory information they are receiving is too much for their brains to process. When reading about localization of function, I realized that almost every part of the brain is affected by autism. There are so many things AP can do, but so many things he can’t because of an impairment, and it leaves me in shock to begin to understand the depth of this disorder.

AP’s neurologist is a lovely lady, and very straight-forward with me. When he was diagnosed 3 years ago, I knew what it was and I just needed it confirmed. When asking about how his life will be impacted, she made a simple comment that I had dismissed up until now. She said that his brain was like a giant map, interconnected with highways. Some of those bridges and cities were damaged for an unknown reason and we had to repair them the best way we knew how. At the time I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about; I had just assumed with some therapy and discipline that he would be neuro-typical in no time. What I now know about localization of function, that the different areas such as the temporal lobes and parietal lobes were the cities and that there are many parts of his brain that need their “highways” and “cities” repaired in order to reach that goal of neuro-typical.

When comparing localization of function to a city map of the brain, and comparing the known functions of those areas to the specific issues my son has, it is easy to relate the material learned back to my own life. There are specific parts of the brain that control different cognitive functions. It makes the lesson that much easier to understand and comprehend.

Works Cited

Autism Causes, Types of Autism, Definition, and Symptoms. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2015. From:

Goldstein, E. (2011). Cognitive Neuroscience. In Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

The Pennsylvania State University. (2015). Lesson 2: Cognitive Neuroscience. PSYCH 256: Introduction to Cognitive Psychology. Retrieved September 13, 2015. from: