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The Role of Subvocalization in Rehearsal and Maintenance of Rhythmic Patterns

  • Jordi Pich (a1)


This experiment analyzed the influence of subvocal activity in retention of rhythmical auditory patterns. Retention of sixteen percussion sequences was studied. Each sequence (a 4-s “door-knocking” pattern) was followed by one of the following six retention conditions: silence, unattended music (blocking the inner ear, i.e., Gregorian chanting), unattended music (blocking the inner ear, i.e., rock-and-roll), articulatory suppression (blocking the inner voice), tracing circles on the table with index finger (spatial task), and tapping (motor control). After silence, unattended music (chanting), or the spatial task, participants successfully reproduced most patterns. Errors increased with unattended music (rock-and-roll), but significant disruptions only occurred with tapping and articulatory suppression. Whereas the latter case supports the role of an articulatory loop in retention, the production of successive taps or syllables in both interference conditions probably relies on a general rhythm module, which disrupted retention of the patterns.

En este experimento se analizó la influencia de la actividad subvocal sobre la retención de patrones rítmicos auditivos. Se investigó la retención de dieciséis secuencias de percusión. Cada una (de 4 seg. y semejante a la típica sucesión de golpes llamando a una puerta) iba seguida por una de las siguientes seis condiciones de retención: silencio, música no atendida (bloqueo del oído interno, i.e., canto gregoriano), música no atendida (bloqueo del oído interno, i.e., “rock-and-roll”), supresión articulatoria (bloqueo de la voz interna), dibujar con el dedo índice círculos sobre la mesa (tarea espacial) y golpear regularmente con la mano sobre la mesa (control motor). En las condiciones de silencio, de música no atendida (canto gregoriano), o en la tarea espacial, los participantes reprodujeron con éxito la mayoría de las secuencias. Los errores aumentaron en la condición de música no atendida (“rock-and-roll”), pero sólo hubo interferencias que fueron estadísticamente significativas en las condiciones de control motor y supresión articulatoria. Mientras esta última condición apoya el papel del bucle articulatorio en la retención, la producción de golpes o de sílabas sucesivas en ambas condiciones experimentales depende, seguramente, de un módulo rítmico general, que perjudica la retención de los patrones.


Corresponding author

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jordi Pich, Departament de Psicologia.Universitat de les Illes Balears. Carretera de Valldemossa, Km 7,5.07071 Palma de Mallorca (Spain). Fax: (+34) 971 173190. E-mail:


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The Role of Subvocalization in Rehearsal and Maintenance of Rhythmic Patterns

  • Jordi Pich (a1)


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