The Irrelevant Sound Phenomenon Revisited: What Role for Working Memory Capacity?

C. Philip Beaman
2004 Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory and Cognition  
High-span individuals (as measured by the operation span [OSPAN] technique) are less likely than lowspan individuals to notice their own names in an unattended auditory stream (A. R. A. Conway, N. Cowan, & M. F. Bunting, 2001) . The possibility that OSPAN accounts for individual differences in auditory distraction on an immediate recall test was examined. There was no evidence that high-OSPAN participants were more resistant to the disruption caused by irrelevant speech in serial or in free
more » ... ll. Low-OSPAN participants did, however, make more semantically related intrusion errors from the irrelevant sound stream in a free recall test (Experiment 4). Results suggest that OSPAN mediates semantic components of auditory distraction dissociable from other aspects of the irrelevant sound effect. I thank Al Harvey for critical readings of earlier versions of this article, Natalie Lynch for running Experiment 3, and Sophie Scott for useful discussions. Nelson Cowan and Emily Elliott suggested Experiment 3.
doi:10.1037/0278-7393.30.5.1106 pmid:15355139 fatcat:huractrkzvgcxbypgzc2nbt2se