This study explored the hypothesis that short-term phonological storage may play an important role in new vocabulary acquisition and that complex working memory capacity (as measured by operation span) contributes nothing beyond phonological retention to predicting vocabulary acquisition. Three experiments were carried out to investigate the relations between short-term phonological span, working memory span, and new vocabulary acquisition. The findings indicated that phonological retention is more important for learning low association value nonwords and for initial learning (i.e., the first session), and that operation span contributes beyond phonological STM for higher association value nonwords and for later sessions. Operation span may reflect subjects' ability to quickly develop strategies to access and use semantic associations in learning the paired associates
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