"We knew that repeating aloud was good for memory, but this is the first study to show that if it is done in a context of communication, the effect is greater in terms of information recall," said Professor Victor Boucher of the University of Montreal.

Boucher and colleagues asked 44 French-speaking university students to read a series of lexemes on a screen.

The subjects were submitted to four experimental conditions: repeating in their head, repeating silently while moving their lips, repeating aloud while looking at the screen, and finally, repeating aloud while addressing someone.

After a distraction task, they were asked to identify the lexemes they recalled having said from a list that included lexemes not used in the test.

Repeating in one's head without gesturing was the least effective way to recall information.

"The simple fact of articulating without making a sound creates a sensorimotor link that increases our ability to remember, but if it is related to the functionality of speech, we remember even more," Boucher said.

Previous studies conducted at Boucher's Phonetic Sciences Laboratory have shown that when we articulate a sound, we create a sensory and motor reference in our brain, by moving our mouth and feeling our vocal chords vibrate.

"The production of one or more sensory aspects allows for more efficient recall of the verbal element. But the added effect of talking to someone shows that in addition to the sensorimotor aspects related to verbal expression, the brain refers to the multisensory information associated with the communication episode," Boucher said.

"The result is that the information is better retained in memory," he said.

In another experiment, "we used sequences of syllables that do not form lexemes in French, ie, non-words," said Boucher.

As the researchers expected, their data showed no difference between the various experimental conditions.

Subjects did not recall the sequences of "non-words" any better - whether they produced them aloud, silently, or when speaking to someone.

 

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