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Love is . . . an abstract word: the influence of phonological and semantic factors on verbal short-term memory in Williams syndrome

By E. Laing, J. Grant, Michael S.C. Thomas, C. Parmigiani, S. Ewing and Annette Karmiloff-Smith

Abstract

It has been claimed that verbal short-term memory in Williams syndrome is characterised by an over-use of phonological coding alongside a reduced contribution of lexical semantics. We critically examine this hypothesis and present results from a memory span task comparing performance on concrete and abstract words, together with a replication of a span task using phonologically similar and phonologically dissimilar words. Fourteen participants with Williams syndrome were individually matched to two groups of typically developing children. The first control group was matched on digit span and the second on vocabulary level. Significant effects were found for both the semantic and the phonological variables in the WS group as well as in the control groups, with no interaction between experimental variable and group in either experiment. The results demonstrate that, despite claims to the contrary, children and adults with WS are able to access and make use of lexical semantics in a verbal short-term memory task in a manner comparable to typically developing individuals

Topics: psyc
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.bbk.ac.uk.oai2:2881

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