My latest paper with John Marsh and colleagues, “Changing-state irrelevant speech disrupts visual-verbal but not visual-spatial serial recall”, has just been accepted for publication in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition. The abstract for the paper is below:

In an influential paper, Jones et al. (1995) provide evidence that auditory distraction by changing relative to repetitive auditory distracters (the changing-state effect) did not differ between a visual-verbal and visual-spatial serial recall task, providing evidence for an amodal mechanism for the representation of serial order in short-term memory that transcends modalities. This finding has been highly influential for theories of short-term memory and auditory distraction. However, evidence vis-à-vis the robustness of this result is sorely lacking. Here, two high-powered replications of Jones et al.’s (1995) crucial Experiment 4 were undertaken. In the first partial replication (n = 64), a fully within-participants design was adopted, wherein participants undertook both the visual-verbal and visual-spatial serial recall tasks under different irrelevant sound conditions, without a retention period. The second near-identical replication (n = 128), incorporated a retention period and implemented the task-modality manipulation as a between-participants factor, as per the original Jones et al. (1995; Experiment 4) study. In both experiments, the changing-state effect was observed for visual-verbal serial recall but not for visual-spatial serial recall. The results are consistent with modular and interference-based accounts of distraction and challenge some aspects of functional equivalence accounts.