Paws + cause = pause? Memory load and memory blends in homophone recognition

Tamiko Azuma, Erica J. Williams, Juliet E. Davie

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Scopus citations


    Previous research has shown that separate information sources, activated closely together in time, can induce errors suggestive of memory blends. In Experiment 1, homophones were used to induce such memory errors. In a study task, participants made relatedness judgments to word pairs that included homophones (e.g., PAWS-BEAR). During this task, one group (study-similar) maintained memory loads with words that were orthographically similar to the presented homophones (e.g., JAWS). Another group (test-similar) maintained memory loads similar to those obtained for the study homophone's alternate spelling (e.g., CAUSE). A third group maintained no memory load during the task. In a surprise recognition test, participants were presented both previously viewed homophones (PAWS) and non-presented alternate spellings (PAUSE). We hypothesized that partially activated alternate spellings, in conjunction with the orthographically similar memory words, would result in the creation of blended memories. The results followed suit: The test-similar condition produced significantly elevated false alarms, relative to both the study-similar and the no-load conditions. Experiment 2 replicated these results while including memory loads to control for potential orthographic confusions. The findings are discussed in terms of multiple, episodic memories later activated as single, blended memories.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)723-728
    Number of pages6
    JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Aug 2004

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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