A Preliminary Investigation into the Neural Basis of the Production Effect

Cameron D. Hassall*, Chelsea K. Quinlan, David J. Turk, Tracy L. Taylor, Olave E. Krigolson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
489 Downloads (Pure)


Items that are produced (e.g., read aloud) during encoding typically are better remembered than items that are not produced (e.g., read silently). This "production effect" has been explained by distinctiveness: Produced items have more distinct features than nonproduced items, leading to enhanced retrieval. The goal of the current study was to use electroencephalography (EEG) to examine the neural basis of the production effect. During study, participants were presented with words that they were required to read silently, read aloud, or sing while EEG data were recorded. Subsequent memory performance was tested using a yes/no recognition test. Analysis focused on the event-related brain potentials (ERPs) evoked by the encoding instruction cue for each instruction condition. Our data revealed enhanced memory performance for produced items and a greater P300 ERP amplitude for instructions to sing or read aloud compared with instructions to read silently. Our results demonstrate that the amplitude of the P300 is modulated by at least 1 aspect of production, vocalization (singing/reading aloud relative to reading silently), and are consistent with the distinctiveness account of the production effect. The ERP methodology is a viable tool for investigating the production effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-146
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science


  • production effect
  • P300
  • electroencephalography
  • memory
  • distinctiveness


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