The intonation component of Melodic Intonation Therapy has been discovered to help individuals retrieve words more efficiently. However, there has been limited research on rhythm’s impact on word retrieval and the role that the number of syllables plays in the ability to retrieve words. Therefore, this study was designed to examine the relationship between rhythm and word retrieval across differing numbers of syllables. This study was implemented by experimenting on the effects of word retrieval under two rhythmic conditions: present and absent. The study also examined the effect of syllables on memory using a monosyllable and a four-syllable condition. The participants were students from the College of Wooster. During the study, participants were instructed to learn and retrieve nonwords under two condition groups: rhythmic and nonrhythmic condition as well as monosyllabic and multisyllabic condition. The findings showed that there were no significant results regarding rhythm and word retrieval. However, when a rhythm was applied, there was a numerical difference present that showed that word retrieval improved in both multisyllabic and monosyllabic nonwords. The findings also showed that multisyllabic words were significantly harder to memorize than monosyllabic words. This may be due to the syllabic effect, which states that longer syllables are harder to retrieve than shorter syllables (Ferrand, 2000, pp. 144-145). Although the findings on rhythm were nonsignificant to a college-age group, this study could be applied to an older population in order to determine the effects on memory.


Herzmann, Grit

Second Advisor

Keelor, Jennifer


Communication; Neuroscience


word retrieval, rhythm, syllables, Melodic Intonation Therapy

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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