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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


Visuospatial support for verbal short-term memory in individuals with Down syndrome

Individuals with Down syndrome (DS) tend to have impaired verbal short-term memory (STM), which persists even when visual support is provided for carrying out verbal tasks. Objective: The current study aims to investigate whether visuospatial support, rather than just visual, can compensate for verbal STM deficits in these individuals. The performance of 25 children and adolescents with DS (mean age = 12.5, SD = 3.8) on five word span tasks was compared with that of two groups of typically developing children, matched for mental age (N = 25; mean age = 6.0, SD = .2) and for receptive vocabulary (N = 25; mean age = 4.0, SD = .8). Four of the five tasks varied in terms of input and output – verbal and/or visual – and the fifth task included a spatial component in addition to visual input and output. DS individuals performed equally bad in the pure verbal task and in those with visual components; however, there was a significant improvement when the spatial component was included in the task. The mental age matched group outperformed DS individuals in all tasks except for that with the spatial component; the receptive vocabulary matched group, outperformed DS individuals only in the pure verbal task. We found that visuospatial support improves verbal STM in individuals with DS. This result may have implications for intervention purposes.

from Research in Developmental Disabilities

Hearing Loss Is Negatively Related to Episodic and Semantic Long-Term Memory but Not to Short-Term Memory

Conclusions: The overall relationships between hearing loss and memory systems were predicted by the ease of language understanding model (J. Rönnberg, 2003), but the exact mechanisms of episodic memory decline in hearing aid users (i.e., mismatch/disuse, attentional resources, or information degradation) remain open for further experiments. The hearing aid industry should strive to design signal processing algorithms that are cognition friendly.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

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

Explaining semantic short-term memory deficits: Evidence for the critical role of semantic control

Patients with apparently selective short-term memory (STM) deficits for semantic information have played an important role in developing multi-store theories of STM and challenge the idea that verbal STM is supported by maintaining activation in the language system. We propose that semantic STM deficits are not as selective as previously thought and can occur as a result of mild disruption to semantic control processes, i.e., mechanisms that bias semantic processing towards task-relevant aspects of knowledge and away from irrelevant information. We tested three semantic STM patients with tasks that tapped four aspects of semantic control: (i) resolving ambiguity between word meanings, (ii) sensitivity to cues, (iii) ignoring irrelevant information and (iv) detecting weak semantic associations. All were impaired in conditions requiring more semantic control, irrespective of the STM demands of the task, suggesting a mild, but task-general, deficit in regulating semantic knowledge. This mild deficit has a disproportionate effect on STM tasks because they have high intrinsic control demands: in STM tasks, control is required to keep information active when it is no longer available in the environment and to manage competition between items held in memory simultaneously. By re-interpreting the core deficit in semantic STM patients in this way, we are able to explain their apparently selective impairment without the need for a specialised STM store. Instead, we argue that semantic STM patients occupy the mildest end of spectrum of semantic control disorders.

from Neuropsychologia

Working memory structure in 10- and 15-year old children with mild to borderline intellectual, disabilities

The validity of Baddeley’s working memory model within the typically developing population, was tested. However, it is not clear if this model also holds in children and adolescents with mild to, borderline intellectual disabilities (ID; IQ score 55–85). The main purpose of this study was therefore, to explore the model’s validity in this population. Several verbal and visuo-spatial STM and WM tasks, were administered to 115 children with mild to borderline ID (mean age 10 years) and to 98, adolescents with mild to borderline ID (mean age 15). Structural equation modeling (LISREL) shows, that Baddeley’s working memory model does not fit the data of the 10-year and 15-year old, participants. Principal components analyses on the other hand show a hazy pattern with on the one, side an indication for a ‘general’ component with loadings of visuo-spatial short-term memory and, working memory tasks and a separate verbal short-term memory component. On the other hand there, is also an indication of a modality specific memory structure; a visuo-spatial- versus a verbal, component. A straight-forward dichotomy between STM and WM indicates apparently an, oversimplification, at least it is for children and adolescents with mild to borderline ID.

from Research in Developmental Disabilities

Visual short-term memory binding deficits in familial Alzheimer’s disease

Short-term memory binding is a memory function that underpins the temporary retention of complex objects (e.g. shapes with colours). In the verbal domain, this function has been found to be impaired in sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. Whether short-term memory binding is also impaired in familial Alzheimer’s disease, whether this impairment extends to the visual domain and whether it could be detected earlier than other cognitive deficits are issues yet to be investigated. Twenty two patients with familial Alzheimer’s disease caused by the E280A single presenilin-1 mutation, thirty carriers of the mutation who did not meet Alzheimer’s disease criteria (asymptomatic carriers) and 30 healthy relatives (non-carrier healthy controls) were assessed with a visual short-term memory task and a neuropsychological battery. The short-term memory task assessed the recognition of shapes, colours or shape-colour bindings presented in two consecutive arrays (i.e. study and test). Changes, which always occurred in the test array, consisted of new features replacing studied features (single feature conditions) or of features swapping across items (the binding condition). The neuropsychological battery comprised tests of associative and non-associative memory, attention, language, visuospatial and executive functions. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease and asymptomatic carriers performed significantly worse than healthy controls in the feature binding condition only. Group comparisons between asymptomatic carriers and healthy controls on standard neuropsychological tasks revealed no significant differences. Classification and area under the curve analyses confirmed that the binding task combines more sensitivity and specificity for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and most notably for asymptomatic carriers of the mutation than other traditional neuropsychological measures. This suggests that visual short-term memory binding deficits may be a preclinical marker for familial Alzheimer’s disease.

from Brain

Similarities and differences between working memory and long-term memory: Evidence from the levels-of-processing span task.

Two experiments compared the effects of depth of processing on working memory (WM) and long-term memory (LTM) using a levels-of-processing (LOP) span task, a newly developed WM span procedure that involves processing to-be-remembered words based on their visual, phonological, or semantic characteristics. Depth of processing had minimal effect on WM tests, yet subsequent memory for the same items on delayed tests showed the typical benefits of semantic processing. Although the difference in LOP effects demonstrates a dissociation between WM and LTM, we also found that the retrieval practice provided by recalling words on the WM task benefited long-term retention, especially for words initially recalled from supraspan lists. The latter result is consistent with the hypothesis that WM span tasks involve retrieval from secondary memory, but the LOP dissociation suggests the processes engaged by WM and LTM tests may differ. Therefore, similarities and differences between WM and LTM depend on the extent to which retrieval from secondary memory is involved and whether there is a match (or mismatch) between initial processing and subsequent retrieval, consistent with transfer-appropriate-processing theory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

from Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition

Differential Effects of Ecstasy on Short-Term and Working Memory: A Meta-Analysis

Quantitative analysis of studies examining the effect of ecstasy on short-term and working memory in the verbal and visuo-spatial domain was undertaken. Thirty verbal short-term memory, 22 verbal working memory, 12 visuospatial short-term memory and 9 visuospatial working memory studies met inclusion criteria. Ecstasy users performed significantly worse in all memory domains, both in studies using drug-naïve controls and studies using polydrug controls. These results are consistent with previous meta-analytic findings that ecstasy use is associated with impaired short-term memory function. Lifetime ecstasy consumption predicted effect size in working memory but not in short-term memory. The current meta-analysis adds to the literature by showing that ecstasy use in humans is also associated with impaired working memory, and that this impairment is related to total lifetime ecstasy consumption. These findings highlight the long-term, cumulative behavioral consequences associated with ecstasy use in humans.

from Neuropsychology Review

Dyslexic Children Show Short-Term Memory Deficits in Phonological Storage and Serial Rehearsal: An fMRI Study

Dyslexia is primarily associated with a phonological processing deficit. However, the clinical manifestation also includes a reduced verbal working memory (WM) span. It is unclear whether this WM impairment is caused by the phonological deficit or a distinct WM deficit. The main aim of this study was to investigate neuronal activation related to phonological storage and rehearsal of serial order in WM in a sample of 13-year-old dyslexic children compared with age-matched nondyslexic children. A sequential verbal WM task with two tasks was used. In the Letter Probe task, the probe consisted of a single letter and the judgment was for the presence or absence of that letter in the prior sequence of six letters. In the Sequence Probe (SP) task, the probe consisted of all six letters and the judgment was for a match of their serial order with the temporal order in the prior sequence. Group analyses as well as single-subject analysis were performed with the statistical parametric mapping software SPM2. In the Letter Probe task, the dyslexic readers showed reduced activation in the left precentral gyrus (BA6) compared to control group. In the Sequence Probe task, the dyslexic readers showed reduced activation in the prefrontal cortex and the superior parietal cortex (BA7) compared to the control subjects. Our findings suggest that a verbal WM impairment in dyslexia involves an extended neural network including the prefrontal cortex and the superior parietal cortex. Reduced activation in the left BA6 in both the Letter Probe and Sequence Probe tasks may be caused by a deficit in phonological processing. However, reduced bilateral activation in the BA7 in the Sequence Probe task only could indicate a distinct working memory deficit in dyslexia associated with temporal order processing.

from Neuroscience Research

Does phonological short-term memory causally determine vocabulary learning? Toward a computational resolution of the debate

The relationship between nonword repetition ability and vocabulary size and vocabulary learning has been a topic of intense research interest and investigation over the last two decades, following the demonstration that nonword repetition accuracy is predictive of vocabulary size (Gathercole & Baddeley, 1989). However, the nature of this relationship is not well understood. One prominent account posits that phonological short-term memory (PSTM) is a causal determinant both of nonword repetition ability and of phonological vocabulary learning, with the observed correlation between the two reflecting the effect of this underlying third variable (e.g., Baddeley, Gathercole, & Papagno, 1998). An alternative account proposes the opposite causality: that it is phonological vocabulary size that causally determines nonword repetition ability (e.g., Snowling, Chiat, & Hulme, 1991). We present a theory of phonological vocabulary learning, instantiated as a computational model. The model offers a precise account of the construct of PSTM, of performance in the nonword repetition task, of novel word form learning, and of the relationship between all of these. We show through simulation not only that PSTM causally affects both nonword repetition accuracy and phonological vocabulary size, but also that phonological vocabulary size causally affects nonword repetition ability. The plausibility of the model is supported by the fact that its nonword repetition accuracy displays effects of phonotactic probability and of nonword length, which have been taken as evidence for causal effects on nonword repetition accuracy of phonological vocabulary knowledge and PSTM, respectively. Thus the model makes explicit how the causal links posited by the two theoretical perspectives are both valid, in the process reconciling the two perspectives, and indicating that an opposition between them is unnecessary.

from the Journal of Memory and Language

Input and output modes modulate phonological and semantic contributions to immediate serial recall: Evidence from a brain-damaged patient

Psycholinguistic models of short-term retention suggest that performance at verbal short-term memory (STM) tasks relies on the activation of phonological, lexical, and semantic representations, the relative impact of each depending on task variables. This was tested in normal individuals and in I.R., a brain-damaged patient with a phonological deficit. In Experiment 1, the effect of phonological and semantic similarity was assessed under different presentation formats (words, pictures) and recall modes (oral, picture pointing, and picture pointing among distractors). In Experiment 2, effects were compared using reproduction and reconstruction responses. When words were used at input, controls showed robust phonological similarity effects irrespective of response mode. In contrast, I.R. showed a reliable semantic effect. However, both studies indicated that when response mode promoted order recuperation (reconstruction and picture pointing modes), I.R. showed a typical phonological similarity effect with no semantic contribution. The data support current psycholinguistic views suggesting that the short-term retention of verbal items depends on the temporary activation of word representations. In healthy controls, presentation mode appears to modulate the role of those representations but in I.R., it was the output condition—particularly whether order was or was not required—that was found to be crucial with respect to the appearance of semantic or phonological effects. This supports the important role that order information plays in short-term memory tasks.

from Cognitive Neuropsychology

On the Sensitivity and Specificity of Nonword Repetition and Sentence Recall to Language and Memory Impairments in Children

Results: Approximately equal numbers of children were identified with specific impairments in either language or working memory. A group about twice as large had deficits in both language and working memory. Sensitivity of the screening measure for both SLI and Specific Working Memory Impairments (SWMI) was 84% or greater, although specificity was closer to 50%. Sentence recall performance below the 10th percentile was associated with sensitivity and specificity values above 80% for SLI.

Conclusions: Developmental deficits may be specific to language or working memory, or include impairments in both areas. Sentence recall is a useful clinical marker of SLI and combined language and working memory impairments.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Slave to the rhythm: Experimental tests of a model for verbal short-term memory and long-term sequence learning

Three experiments tested predictions of a neural network model of phonological short-term memory that assumes separate representations for order and item information, order being coded via a context-timing signal [Burgess, N., & Hitch, G. J. (1999). Memory for serial order: A network model of the phonological loop and its timing. Psychological Review, 106, 551–581005D]. Predictions were generated for long-term sequence learning and tested using the Hebb Effect, the improvement in immediate serial recall when a list is repeated. Results confirmed predictions that the Hebb Effect would be (1) insensitive to phonemic similarity and articulatory suppression, variables that impair immediate recall without affecting the context-timing signal and (2) reduced if the context-timing signal is altered by varying the temporal grouping pattern of the repeated list. Results highlighted an interesting shortcoming of the model in that participants were able to learn more than one sequence simultaneously. However, this problem was addressed by extending the model to include multiple context representations and a sequence-recognition process.

from the Journal of Memory and Language

The pars triangularis in dyslexia and ADHD: A comprehensive approach

Limited research has been conducted on the structure of the pars triangularis (PT) in dyslexia despite functional neuroimaging research finding it may play a role in phonological processing. Furthermore, research to date has not examined PT size in ADHD even though the right inferior frontal region has been implicated in the disorder. Hence, one of the purposes of this study was to examine the structure of the PT in dyslexia and ADHD. The other purposes included examining the PT in relation to overall expressive language ability and in relation to several specific linguistic functions given language functioning often is affected in both dyslexia and ADHD. Participants included 50 children: 10 with dyslexia, 15 with comorbid dyslexia/ADHD, 15 with ADHD, and 10 controls. Using a 2 (dyslexia or not) × 2 (ADHD or not) MANCOVA, findings revealed PT length and shape were comparable between those with and without dyslexia. However, children with ADHD had smaller right PT lengths than those without ADHD, and right anterior ascending ramus length was related to attention problems in the total sample. In terms of linguistic functioning, presence of an extra sulcus in the left PT was related to poor expressive language ability. In those with adequate expressive language functioning, left PT length was related to phonological awareness, phonological short-term memory and rapid automatic naming (RAN). Right PT length was related to RAN and semantic processing. Further work on PT morphology in relation to ADHD and linguistic functioning is warranted.

from Brain and Language