Language Influences on Verbal Short-Term Memory Performance in Down Syndrome Item and Order Recognition Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2004
Language Influences on Verbal Short-Term Memory Performance in Down Syndrome
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jon Brock
    University of Bristol, United Kingdom
  • Christopher Jarrold
    University of Bristol, United Kingdom
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: jon.brock@psy.ox.ac.uk
  • Contact author: Jon Brock, now at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3UD, United Kingdom.
    Contact author: Jon Brock, now at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3UD, United Kingdom.×
Article Information
Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2004
Language Influences on Verbal Short-Term Memory Performance in Down Syndrome
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2004, Vol. 47, 1334-1346. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/100)
History: Received October 22, 2003 , Accepted April 17, 2004
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2004, Vol. 47, 1334-1346. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2004/100)
History: Received October 22, 2003; Accepted April 17, 2004
Web of Science® Times Cited: 31

Down syndrome is associated with severe deficits in language and verbal short-term memory, but the causal relationship between these deficits is unclear. The current study therefore investigated the influence of language abilities on verbal short-term memory performance in Down syndrome. Twenty-one individuals with Down syndrome and 29 younger typically developing children were tested on memory for words and nonwords using 2 immediate recognition tasks: an order memory task that was a relatively pure measure of verbal short-term memory and an item memory task that was more sensitive to language ability. Despite having superior vocabulary knowledge to the typically developing children, individuals with Down syndrome were impaired on both order and item tasks. This impairment was particularly marked on the item task, where individuals with Down syndrome showed an atypically large lexicality effect. These results are interpreted in terms of an underlying verbal short-term memory deficit in Down syndrome that is compounded by poor phonological discrimination abilities.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by a Charles J. Epstein Research Award from the National Down Syndrome Society of the United States. We are grateful to the pupils and staff of Ashton Gate, Fosseway, Kingsweston, and Ravenswood schools for their cooperation in this work and to Clive Frankish for assistance in creating the stimulus sets.
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