Sequential Memory in Children With and Without Language Impairment Serial recall was studied in children with language impairment and two groups of normally achieving controls: a group matched for age and a younger group matched for reading and memory capacity. Participants were presented lists of digits that were one item longer than their memory span, in conditions requiring either ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 1995
Sequential Memory in Children With and Without Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ronald B. Gillam
    Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders University of Texas at Austin
  • Nelson Cowan
    Department of Psychology University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Linda S. Day
    Department of Psychology University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Contact author: Ron Gillam, PhD, Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders, The University of Texas at Austin, Jesse H. Jones Communication Center, Austin, TX 78712–1089. E-mail: rgillam@utxvm.cc.utexas.edu
Article Information
Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 1995
Sequential Memory in Children With and Without Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1995, Vol. 38, 393-402. doi:10.1044/jshr.3802.393
History: Received January 11, 1994 , Accepted August 9, 1994
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1995, Vol. 38, 393-402. doi:10.1044/jshr.3802.393
History: Received January 11, 1994; Accepted August 9, 1994

Serial recall was studied in children with language impairment and two groups of normally achieving controls: a group matched for age and a younger group matched for reading and memory capacity. Participants were presented lists of digits that were one item longer than their memory span, in conditions requiring either written or oral recall. Digit lists were presented either with or without a final nonword item, or “suffix,” that was capable of interfering with memory for items at the end of the list. The main finding was that the list-final suffix effect was substantially larger than normal in children with language impairment, even though other aspects of their recall were normal. This deficiency in children with language impairment was evident only under a scoring system that credited recall of items in their correct serial positions, not under scoring systems that credited memory for the presence of items or their sequence. Results are interpreted according to the hypothesis that children with language impairment are more dependent upon relatively unanalyzed acoustic and phonetic representations of speech than are other children.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health to the first author (DC-00063–01) and the second author (HD-21338). We wish to acknowledge the contributions of the faculty, staff, and students of Parkade Elementary and West Boulevard Elementary schools, Columbia, Missouri. Special thanks to Mike Holden who wrote the software programs that delivered the experiments; to Connie Vaught, Donna Wilhite, and Amy Adam who assisted with data collection; and to Anne van Kleeck, Elizabeth Skarakis-Doyle, and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful suggestions about an earlier version of the manuscript. A partial report of this investigation was presented at the 1992 Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access