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Short-term and working memory impairments in aphasia

The aim of the present study is to investigate short-term memory and working memory deficits in aphasics in relation to the severity of their language impairment. Fifty-eight aphasic patients participated in this study. Based on language assessment, an aphasia score was calculated for each patient. Memory was assessed in two modalities, verbal and spatial. Mean scores for all memory tasks were lower than normal. Aphasia score was significantly correlated with performance on all memory tasks. Correlation coefficients for short-term memory and working memory were approximately of the same magnitude. According to our findings, severity of aphasia is related with both verbal and spatial memory deficits. Moreover, while aphasia score corrrelated with lower scores in both short-term memory and working memory tasks, the lack of substantial difference between corresponding correlation coefficients suggests a possible primary deficit in information retention rather than impairment in working memory.

from Neuropsychologia

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Short-term memory stages in sign vs. speech: The source of the serial span discrepancy

Speakers generally outperform signers when asked to recall a list of unrelated verbal items. This phenomenon is well established, but its source has remained unclear. In this study, we evaluate the relative contribution of the three main processing stages of short-term memory – perception, encoding, and recall – in this effect. The present study factorially manipulates whether American Sign Language (ASL) or English is used for perception, memory encoding, and recall in hearing ASL-English bilinguals. Results indicate that using ASL during both perception and encoding contributes to the serial span discrepancy. Interestingly, performing recall in ASL slightly increased span, ruling out the view that signing is in general a poor choice for short-term memory. These results suggest that despite the general equivalence of sign and speech in other memory domains, speech-based representations are better suited for the specific task of perception and memory encoding of a series of unrelated verbal items in serial order through the phonological loop. This work suggests that interpretation of performance on serial recall tasks in English may not translate straightforwardly to serial tasks in sign language.

from Cognition

Improving digit span assessment of short-term verbal memory

We measured digit span (DS) in two experiments that used computerized presentation of randomized auditory digits with performance-adapted list length adjustment. A new mean span (MS) metric of DS was developed that showed reduced variance, improved test-retest reliability, and higher correlations with the results of other neuropsychological test results when compared to traditional DS measures. The MS metric also enhanced the sensitivity of forward versus backward span comparisons, enabled the development of normative performance criteria with subdigit precision, and elucidated changes in DS performance with age and education level. Computerized stimulus delivery and improved scoring metrics significantly enhance the precision of DS assessments of short-term verbal memory.

from the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology

Verbal Short-term Memory Performance in Pupils with Down Syndrome

Research has shown that verbal short-term memory span is shorter in individuals with Down syndrome than in typically developing individuals of equivalent mental age, but little attention has been given to variations within or across groups. Differences in the environment and in particular educational experiences may play a part in the relative ease or difficulty with which children remember verbal material. This article explores the performance of 26 Egyptian pupils with Down syndrome and 26 Egyptian typically developing children on two verbal short-term memory tests: digit recall and non-word repetition tasks. The findings of the study revealed that typically developing children showed superior performance on these tasks to that of pupils with Down syndrome, whose performance was both lower and revealed a narrower range of attainment. Comparisons with the performance of children with Down syndrome in this study suggested that not only did the children with Down syndrome perform more poorly than the typically developing children, their profile also appeared worse than the results of studies of children with a similar mental age with Down syndrome carried out in western countries. The results from this study suggested that, while deficits in verbal short-term memory in Down syndrome may well be universal, it is important to recognise that performances may vary as a consequence of culture and educational experiences. The significance of these findings is explored with reference to approaches to education and how these are conceptualised in relation to children with disabilities.

from the International Journal of Disability, Development and Education