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Melodic memories: exploring phonological memory, musical training and translation ambiguity

Kazakova, Catherine (2024) Melodic memories: exploring phonological memory, musical training and translation ambiguity. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Individual differences account for some of the variability in ability to acquire new languages. This study investigates the joint contributions of phonological short-term memory (PSTM) and musical training in vocabulary acquisition, focusing on the effects of translation ambiguity. Translation-ambiguous words are highly prevalent in language and have previously been found to pose a disadvantage in learning. This study measured the PSTM and musical training of participants through the backwards digit span task and GoldMSI questionnaire respectively. Participants were taught German words over a series of vocabulary training sessions and their learning was tested via a translation recognition task in which Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) were measured. The findings suggest that although PSTM and musical training have been associated with translation-ambiguity behaviorally in the past, the underlying interaction is not evident in the ERP data. This is possibly because this study measured PSTM and musical training as continuous variables as opposed to categorically, as previous studies have done. Finally, the present study shows evidence of a translation-ambiguity disadvantage in positive waveforms predicted to be the P200 effect. Although the N400 component appears to show a translation-ambiguity advantage in the right laterality, this is predicted to be due to a large latency jitter that lowered the N400 component for translation-ambiguous words. Following these results, this study confirms the translation-ambiguity disadvantage and illustrates how it transfers to ERP components.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kazakova, Catherinecjk102@pitt.educjk102
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorTokowicz, Natashatokowicz@pitt.edutokowicz0000-0002-2317-4447
Committee CoChairSlevc, L. Robertslevc@umd.edu0000-0002-5183-6786
Committee MemberFiez, Juliefiez@pitt.edufiez
Committee MemberFraser, Daviddaf122@pitt.edudaf122
Date: 23 April 2024
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 9 April 2024
Approval Date: 23 April 2024
Submission Date: 18 April 2024
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 44
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Neuroscience
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: translation ambiguity, musical training, PSTM, vocabulary learning, N400, P200
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2024 14:43
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2024 14:43


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