Rhyme as resonance in poetry comprehension: An expert–novice study

R. Brooke Lea*, Andrew Elfenbein, David N. Rapp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has identified alliteration as a powerful device for investigating implicit memory effects. For example, alliterative phrases can provide retrieval cues that extend to a sublexical level and reactivate previous information that shares alliterative content (Lea et al., Psychological Science, 19[7], 709–716, 2008). But it is an open question if other surface forms might provide similar effects in line with these empirical findings, and in accord with writer intuitions. The present study examined whether rhyme produces analogous memory-reactivation effects, given the ubiquity of its use and endorsement of its power in a range of materials and experiences. We also examined whether the surface benefits attributed to rhyme might support anticipatory processes such as those traditionally examined with semantic content. In Experiment 1, participants exhibited faster recognition responses to previous poetic content as a function of rhyming cues. In Experiment 2, we recruited participants identified as experts on the study and use of rhyme, replicating the probe facilitations obtained in Experiment 1, but also revealing anticipations of imminent rhymes. The results are discussed in terms of implications for theories of memory-based text processing and of nonsemantic anticipatory processes during the reading of poetry, and perhaps for discourse experiences more generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1285-1299
Number of pages15
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Memory-based processing
  • Poetry comprehension, Anticipatory processes
  • Resonance
  • Rhyme

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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