A contiguity effect, the finding that stimuli that occur close together in time become associated to each other, is observed between words separated by several seconds. The traditional account of contiguity effects is that item representations become associated to each other while active in a short-term memory buffer, a limited-capacity store that can hold a small, integral, number of items. Participants studied and free recalled 48 lists of words. At the end of the session, participants were given a surprise final free recall test on all the items from all the lists. In addition to a standard contiguity effect between items presented at nearby serial positions, we simultaneously observed a contiguity effect between items presented in different lists. This latter contiguity effect extended over several lists, or several hundred seconds, well beyond the range that can be attributed to a buffer holding a small, integral number of items.
The ability to detect and integrate associations between unrelated items that are close in space and time is a key feature of human learning and memory. Learning sequential associations between non-adjacent visual stimuli (higher-order visuospatial dependencies) can occur either with or without awareness (explicit vs. implicit learning) of the products of learning. Existing behavioural and neurocognitive studies of explicit and implicit sequence learning, however, are based on conscious access to the sequence of target locations and, typically, on conditions where the locations for orienting, or motor, responses coincide with the locations of the target sequence.
Dichoptic stimuli were presented on a novel sequence learning task using a mirror stereoscope to mask the eye-of-origin of visual input from conscious awareness. We demonstrate that conscious access to the sequence of target locations and responses that coincide with structure of the target sequence are dispensable features when learning higher-order visuospatial associations. Sequence knowledge was expressed in the ability of participants to identify the trained higher-order visuospatial sequence on a recognition test, even though the trained and untrained recognition sequences were identical when viewed at a conscious binocular level, and differed only at the level of the masked sequential associations.
These results demonstrate that unconscious processing can support perceptual learning of higher-order sequential associations through interocular integration of retinotopic-based codes stemming from monocular eye-of-origin information. Furthermore, unlike other forms of perceptual associative learning, visuospatial attention did not need to be directed to the locations of the target sequence. More generally, the results pose a challenge to neural models of learning to account for a previously unknown capacity of the human visual system to support the detection, learning and recognition of higher-order sequential associations under conditions where observers are unable to see the target sequence or perform responses that coincide with structure of the target sequence.
In the SIMPLE model (Scale Invariant Memory and Perceptual Learning), performance on memory tasks is determined by the locations of items in multidimensional space, and better performance is associated with having fewer close neighbors. Unlike most previous simulations with SIMPLE, the ones reported here used measured, rather than assumed, dimensional values. The data to be modeled come from an experiment in which younger and older adults recalled lists of acoustically confusable and non-confusable items. A multidimensional scaling solution based on the memory confusions was obtained. SIMPLE accounted for the overall difference in performance both between the two age groups and, within each age group, the overall difference between acoustically confusable and non-confusable items in terms of the MDS coordinates. Moreover, the model accounted for the serial position functions and error gradients. Finally, the generality of the model’s account was examined by fitting data from an already published study. The data and the modeling support the hypothesis that older adults’ memory may be worse, in part, because of altered representations due to age-related auditory perceptual deficits.
Memory; Memory models; Aging and memory
Learning of stimulus sequences is considered as a characteristic feature of episodic memory since it contains not only a particular item but also the experience of preceding and following events. In sensorimotor tasks resembling navigational performance, the serial order of objects is intimately connected with spatial order. Mammals and birds develop episodic(-like) memory in serial spatio-temporal tasks, and the honeybee learns spatio-temporal order when navigating between the nest and a food source. Here I examine the structure of the bees’ memory for a combined spatio-temporal task. I ask whether discrimination and generalization are based solely on simple forms of stimulus-reward learning or whether they require sequential configurations. Animals were trained to fly either left or right in a continuous T-maze. The correct choice was signaled by the sequence of colors (blue, yellow) at four positions in the access arm. If only one of the possible 4 signals is shown (either blue or yellow), the rank order of position salience is 1, 2 and 3 (numbered from T-junction). No learning is found if the signal appears at position 4. If two signals are shown, differences at positions 1 and 2 are learned best, those at position 3 at a low level, and those at position 4 not at all. If three or more signals are shown these results are corroborated. This salience rank order again appeared in transfer tests, but additional configural phenomena emerged. Most of the results can be explained with a simple model based on the assumption that the four positions are equipped with different salience scores and that these add up independently. However, deviations from the model are interpreted by assuming stimulus configuration of sequential patterns. It is concluded that, under the conditions chosen, bees rely most strongly on memories developed during simple forms of associative reward learning, but memories of configural serial patterns contribute, too.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of specific types of tasks on the efficiency of implicit procedural learning in the presence of developmental dyslexia (DD).
Methods: Sixteen children with DD (mean (SD) age 11.6 (1.4) years) and 16 matched normal reader controls (mean age 11.4 (1.9) years) were administered two tests (the Serial Reaction Time test and the Mirror Drawing test) in which implicit knowledge was gradually acquired across multiple trials. Although both tests analyse implicit learning abilities, they tap different competencies. The Serial Reaction Time test requires the development of sequential learning and little (if any) procedural learning, whereas the Mirror Drawing test involves fast and repetitive processing of visuospatial stimuli but no acquisition of sequences.
Results: The children with DD were impaired on both implicit learning tasks, suggesting that the learning deficit observed in dyslexia does not depend on the material to be learned (with or without motor sequence of response action) but on the implicit nature of the learning that characterises the tasks.
Conclusion: Individuals with DD have impaired implicit procedural learning.
Recent studies investigating off-line processes of consolidation in motor learning have demonstrated a sudden, short-lived improvement in performance after 5–30 minutes of post-training inactivity. Here, we investigated further this behavioral boost in the context of the probabilistic serial reaction time task, a paradigm of implicit sequence learning. We looked both at the electrophysiological correlates of the boost effect and whether this phenomenon occurs at the initial training session only.
Reaction times consistently improved after a 30-minute break within two sessions spaced four days apart, revealing the reproducibility of the boost effect. Importantly, this improvement was unrelated to the acquisition of the sequential regularities in the material. At both sessions, event-related potentials (ERPs) analyses disclosed a boost-associated increased amplitude of a first negative component, and shorter latencies for a second positive component.
Behavioral and ERP data suggest increased processing fluency after short delays, which may support transitory improvements in attentional and/or motor performance and participate in the final setting up of the neural networks involved in the acquisition of novel skills.
The basal ganglia are thought to participate in implicit sequence learning. However, the exact nature of this role has been difficult to determine in light of the conflicting evidence on implicit learning in subjects with Parkinson’s disease (PD). We examined the performance of PD subjects using a modified form of the serial reaction time task, which ensured that learning remained implicit. Subjects with predominantly right-sided symptoms were trained on a 12-element sequence using the right hand. Although there was no evidence of sequence learning on the basis of response time savings, the subjects showed knowledge of the sequence when performance was assessed in terms of the number of errors made. This effect transferred to the left (untrained) hand as well. Thus, these data demonstrate that PD patients are not impaired at implicitly learning sequential order, but rather at the translation of sequence knowledge into rapid motor performance. Furthermore, the results suggest that the basal ganglia are not essential for implicit sequence learning in PD.
sequence learning; parkinson’s disease; implicit; serial reaction time
The well-known finding that responses in serial recall tend to be clustered around the position of the target item has bolstered positional-coding theories of serial order memory. In the present study, we show that this effect is confounded with another well-known finding—that responses in serial recall tend to also be clustered around the position of the prior recall (temporal clustering). The confound can be alleviated by conditioning each analysis on the positional accuracy of the previously recalled item. The revised analyses show that temporal clustering is much more prevalent in serial recall than is positional clustering. A simple associative chaining model with asymmetric neighboring, remote associations, and a primacy gradient can account for these effects. Using the same parameter values, the model produces reasonable serial position curves and captures the changes in item and order information across study-test trials. In contrast, a prominent positional coding model cannot account for the pattern of clustering uncovered by the new analyses.
Serial recall; serial order; association; clustering
Neural activation in a 12-item probe-recognition task was examined to investigate the contribution of the hippocampus to long-term memory (LTM) retrieval and working memory (WM) retrieval. Results indicated a dissociation between the last item that participants studied and other items of the study list: Compared with all other serial positions, activation was reduced for the item in the most recent position (for which no items intervened between study and test). This finding suggests that this last item was in focal attention at test time, and, therefore, no retrieval operation was required to access it. However, contra the assertion that the hippocampus should selectively support LTM, activation of the medial temporal lobe was observed for all serial positions other than the last position, and activation level could be predicted from the underlying memory strength. Collectively, these findings support single-store accounts that assume there are similar operating principles across WM and LTM representations, and the focus of attention is limited.
working memory; short-term memory; long-term memory; memory systems; focal attention; item recognition; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); medial temporal lobe; hippocampus
Over the last 20 years researchers have used the serial reaction time (SRT) task
to investigate the nature of spatial sequence learning. They have used the task
to identify the locus of spatial sequence learning, identify situations that
enhance and those that impair learning, and identify the important cognitive
processes that facilitate this type of learning. Although controversies remain,
the SRT task has been integral in enhancing our understanding of implicit
sequence learning. It is important, however, to ask what, if anything, the
discoveries made using the SRT task tell us about implicit learning more
generally. This review analyzes the state of the current spatial SRT sequence
learning literature highlighting the stimulus-response rule hypothesis of
sequence learning which we believe provides a unifying account of discrepant SRT
data. It also challenges researchers to use the vast body of knowledge acquired
with the SRT task to understand other implicit learning literatures too often
ignored in the context of this particular task. This broad perspective will make
it possible to identify congruences among data acquired using various different
tasks that will allow us to generalize about the nature of implicit
sequence learning; implicit learning; serial reaction time task
Verbal information is coded naturally as ordered representations in working memory (WM). However, this may not be true for spatial information. Accordingly, we used memory-span tasks to test the hypothesis that serial order is more readily bound to verbal than to spatial representations. Removing serial-order requirements improved performance more for spatial locations than for digits. Furthermore, serial order was freely reproduced twice as frequently for digits as for locations. When participants reordered spatial sequences, they minimized the mean distance between items. Participants also failed to detect changes in serial order more frequently for spatial than for verbal sequences. These results provide converging evidence for a dissociation in the binding of serial order to spatial vs. verbal representations. There may be separable domain-specific control processes responsible for this binding. Alternatively, there may be fundamental differences in how effectively temporal information can be bound to different types of stimulus features in WM.
In incidental sequence learning situations, there is often a number of
participants who can report the task-inherent sequential regularity after
training. Two kinds of mechanisms for the generation of this explicit knowledge
have been proposed in the literature. First, a sequence representation may
become explicit when its strength reaches a certain level (Cleeremans, 2006), and secondly, explicit knowledge may
emerge as the result of a search process that is triggered by unexpected events
that occur during task processing and require an explanation (the
unexpected-event hypothesis; Haider &
Frensch, 2009). Our study aimed at systematically exploring the
contribution of both mechanisms to the generation of explicit sequence knowledge
in an incidental learning situation. We varied the amount of specific sequence
training and inserted unexpected events into a 6-choice serial reaction time
task. Results support the unexpected-event view, as the generation of explicit
sequence knowledge could not be predicted by the representation strength
acquired through implicit sequence learning. Rather sequence detection turned
out to be more likely when participants were shifted to the fixed repeating
sequence after training than when practicing one and the same fixed sequence
without interruption. The behavioral effects of representation strength appear
to be related to the effectiveness of unexpected changes in performance as
triggers of a controlled search.
sequence learning; explicit sequence knowledge; sequence detection; serial reaction time task; reportable knowledge; unexpected events
The serial position effect shows that two interrelated cognitive processes underlie immediate recall of a supraspan word list. The current study used item response theory (IRT) methods to determine whether the serial position effect poses a threat to the construct validity of immediate list recall as a measure of verbal episodic memory. Archival data were obtained from a national sample of 4,212 volunteers aged 28–84 in the Midlife Development in the United States study. Telephone assessment yielded item-level data for a single immediate recall trial of the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT). Two parameter logistic IRT procedures were used to estimate item parameters and the Q1 statistic was used to evaluate item fit. A two-dimensional model better fit the data than a unidimensional model, supporting the notion that list recall is influenced by two underlying cognitive processes. IRT analyses revealed that 4 of the 15 RAVLT items (1, 12, 14, and 15) were misfit (p < .05). Item characteristic curves for items 14 and 15 decreased monotonically, implying an inverse relationship between the ability level and the probability of recall. Elimination of the four misfit items provided better fit to the data and met necessary IRT assumptions. Performance on a supraspan list learning test is influenced by multiple cognitive abilities; failure to account for the serial position of words decreases the construct validity of the test as a measure of episodic memory and may provide misleading results. IRT methods can ameliorate these problems and improve construct validity.
Learning and memory; Assessment; Statistical methods
It is well documented that East Asians differ from Westerners in conscious perception and attention. However, few studies have explored cultural differences in unconscious processes such as implicit learning.
The global-local Navon letters were adopted in the serial reaction time (SRT) task, during which Chinese and British participants were instructed to respond to global or local letters, to investigate whether culture influences what people acquire in implicit sequence learning. Our results showed that from the beginning British expressed a greater local bias in perception than Chinese, confirming a cultural difference in perception. Further, over extended exposure, the Chinese learned the target regularity better than the British when the targets were global, indicating a global advantage for Chinese in implicit learning. Moreover, Chinese participants acquired greater unconscious knowledge of an irrelevant regularity than British participants, indicating that the Chinese were more sensitive to contextual regularities than the British.
The results suggest that cultural biases can profoundly influence both what people consciously perceive and unconsciously learn.
The present fMRI study investigated the neural areas involved in implicit perceptual sequence learning. To obtain more insight in the functional contributions of the brain areas, we tracked both the behavioral and neural time course of the learning process, using a perceptual serial color matching task. Next, to investigate whether the neural time course was specific for perceptual information, imaging results were compared to the results of implicit motor sequence learning, previously investigated using an identical serial color matching task (Gheysen et al., 2010). Results indicated that implicit sequences can be acquired by at least two neural systems: the caudate nucleus and the hippocampus, having different operating principles. The caudate nucleus contributed to the implicit sequence learning process for perceptual as well as motor information in a similar and gradual way. The hippocampus, on the other hand, was engaged in a much faster learning process which was more pronounced for the motor compared to the perceptual task. Interestingly, the perceptual and motor learning process occurred on a comparable implicit level, suggesting that consciousness is not the main determinant factor dissociating the hippocampal from the caudate learning system. This study is not only the first to successfully and unambiguously compare brain activation between perceptual and motor levels of implicit sequence learning, it also provides new insights into the specific hippocampal and caudate learning function.
implicit sequence learning; perceptual sequence learning; motor sequence learning; fMRI; caudate nucleus; hippocampus
The response-signal speed-accuracy trade-off (SAT) procedure was used to investigate the relationship between measures of working memory capacity and the time-course of short-term item recognition. High- and low-span participants studied sequentially presented 6-item lists, immediately followed by a recognition probe. Analyses of composite list and serial position SAT functions found no differences in retrieval speed between the two span groups. Overall accuracy was higher for high spans than low spans, with more pronounced differences for earlier serial positions. Analysis of false alarms to recent negatives (lures from the previous study list) revealed no differences in the timing or magnitude of early false alarms, thought to reflect familiarity-based judgments. However, critically, analyses of false alarms later in retrieval indicated that recollective information accrues more slowly for low spans, which suggests that recollective information may also contribute less to judgments concerning studied items for low span participants. These findings can provide an explanation for the greater susceptibility of low spans to interference.
working memory capacity; short-term item recognition; interference; recent negative; speed-accuracy trade-off procedure
Information about where and when events happen seem naturally linked to each other, but only few studies have investigated whether and how they are associated in working memory. We tested whether the location of items and their temporal order are jointly or independently encoded. We also verified if spatio-temporal binding is influenced by the sensory modality of items. Participants were requested to memorize the location and/or the serial order of five items (environmental sounds or pictures sequentially presented from five different locations). Next, they were asked to recall either the item location or their order of presentation within the sequence. Attention during encoding was manipulated by contrasting blocks of trials in which participants were requested to encode only one feature to blocks of trials where they had to encode both features. Results show an interesting interaction between task and attention. Accuracy in serial order recall was affected by the simultaneous encoding of item location, whereas the recall of item location was unaffected by the concurrent encoding of the serial order of items. This asymmetric influence of attention on the two tasks was similar for the auditory and visual modality. Together, these data indicate that item location is processed in a relatively automatic fashion, whereas maintaining serial order is more demanding in terms of attention. The remarkably analogous results for auditory and visual memory performance, suggest that the binding of serial order and location in working memory is not modality-dependent, and may involve common intersensory mechanisms.
automatic encoding; attention; localization; serial order; environmental sound
Are the information processing steps that support short-term sensory memory common to all the senses? Systematic, psychophysical comparison requires identical experimental paradigms and comparable stimuli, which can be challenging to obtain across modalities. Participants performed a recognition memory task with auditory and visual stimuli that were comparable in complexity and in their neural representations at early stages of cortical processing. The visual stimuli were static and moving Gaussian-windowed, oriented, sinusoidal gratings (Gabor patches); the auditory stimuli were broadband sounds whose frequency content varied sinusoidally over time (moving ripples). Parallel effects on recognition memory were seen for number of items to be remembered, retention interval, and serial position. Further, regardless of modality, predicting an item's recognizability requires taking account of (1) the probe's similarity to the remembered list items (summed similarity), and (2) the similarity between the items in memory (inter-item homogeneity). A model incorporating both these factors gives a good fit to recognition memory data for auditory as well as visual stimuli. In addition, we present the first demonstration of the orthogonality of summed similarity and inter-item homogeneity effects. These data imply that auditory and visual representations undergo very similar transformations while they are encoded and retrieved from memory.
Memories are not exact representations of the past. But can we say that all our senses are equally reliable (or unreliable) sources for memory? We performed a series of experiments to test that proposition. Sound and light are processed by different receptors and neural pathways in the brain. Previous comparisons of auditory and visual memory have done little to place on equal footing the stimuli that will be remembered, limiting the ability to truly compare the two processes. However, using current knowledge of how these sensations are represented in the nervous system, we created auditory and visual stimuli of similar complexity and that undergo similar initial processing by the nervous system. We then used these well-matched stimuli to examine memory for studied lists of either auditory or visual items. Using behavioral measures and a computational model for list memory, we show that memory representations are altered similarly for both hearing and vision. We found that auditory and visual memory exhibit striking parallels in terms of how memory is affected by all the parameters we changed in this experiment. These results imply that auditory and visual short-term memory employ similar mechanisms.
The mechanisms by which memories are encoded and retrieved share common principles between the visual and auditory systems of humans.
Patients with amnesia have deficits in declarative memory but intact memory for motor and perceptual skills, which suggests that explicit memory and implicit memory are distinct. However, the evidence that implicit motor learning is intact in amnesic patients is contradictory. This study investigated implicit sequence learning in amnesic patients with Korsakoff’s syndrome (N = 20) and matched controls (N = 14), using the classical Serial Reaction Time Task and a newly developed Pattern Learning Task in which the planning and execution of the responses are more spatially demanding. Results showed that implicit motor learning occurred in both groups of participants; however, on the Pattern Learning Task, the percentage of errors did not increase in the Korsakoff group in the random test phase, which is indicative of less implicit learning. Thus, our findings show that the performance of patients with Korsakoff’s syndrome is compromised on an implicit learning task with a strong spatial response component.
Korsakoff’s syndrome; Amnesia; Implicit learning; Motor learning; Sequence learning; Memory
The capacity to remember sequences is critical to many behaviors, such as navigation and communication. Adult humans readily recall the serial order of auditory items, and this ability is commonly understood to support, in part, the speech processing for language comprehension. Theories of short-term serial recall posit either use of absolute (hierarchically structured) or relative (associatively structured) position information. To date, neither of these classes of theories has been tested in a comparative auditory model. European starlings, a species of songbird, use temporally structured acoustic signals to communicate, and thus have the potential to serve as a model system for auditory working memory. Here, we explore the strategies that starlings use to detect the serial order of ecologically valid acoustic communication signals and the limits on their capacities to do so. Using a two-alternative choice operant procedure, we demonstrate that starlings can attend to the serial ordering of at least four song elements (motifs) and can use this information to classify differently ordered sequences of motifs. Removing absolute position cues from sequences while leaving relative position cues intact, causes recognition to fail. We then show that starlings can, however, recognize motif sequences using only relative position cues, but only under rigid circumstances. The data are consistent with a strong learning bias against relative position information, and suggest that recognition of structured vocal signals in this species is inherently hierarchical.
working memory; serial recall; communication; songbirds; European starling
When multiple items are learned in sequential order, learning for one item tends to be disrupted by subsequently learned items. Such retrograde interference has been studied with paradigms conducted over a relatively short term. Resistance to interference is generally believed to be a measure of learning or consolidation. Here, we used a finger-tapping motor sequence paradigm to examine interference in prolonged motor learning. Three groups of nine subjects participated in training sessions for 16 days, and practiced three different sequences in different orders and combinations. We found that a well-trained motor sequence was subject to a gradual interference when the subsequent learning was paired in a particular order. The results suggest that a well-learned motor memory is still susceptible to interference, and that resistance to interference in one condition does not necessarily imply full, permanent consolidation.
motor learning; interference; retrograde interference; finger tapping; consolidation
The isolation effect (or von Restorff effect) occurs when one item in a to-be-remembered list is distinctive from all remaining items, and memory for that item is enhanced. Four chimpanzees were presented with a serial list of four photographs. In the homogeneous condition, all list items were from the same semantic category (e.g., four fruits). In the isolate condition, three items were from the same category, but the fourth item (the isolate) was from a different category (e.g., three fruits and one toy). Then, two photographs were presented, and the chimpanzees had to select the one that was from the list. Two of four chimpanzees were significantly more likely to select a correct isolate item than an item from the same list position in the homogeneous condition for at least some list positions. This facilitation in performance was for isolate items only, as presenting an isolate item in a list did not facilitate greater recognition of other list items compared to the homogeneous condition. These results indicated that some chimpanzees perceived the semantic categories of the photographs, and categorization of photographs led to the isolation effect. Thus, chimpanzees may share with humans some aspects of memory organization that involve spontaneously categorizing visual stimuli and recognizing categorically unique stimuli.
Chimpanzees; Pan troglodytes; von Restorff effect; Isolation effect; Memory
Do animals form task-specific representations, or do those representations take a general form that can be applied to qualitatively different tasks? Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) learned the ordering of stimulus lists using two different serial tasks, in order to test whether prior experience in each task could be transfered to the other, enhancing performance. The simultaneous chaining paradigm delivered rewards only after subjects responded in the correct order to all stimuli displayed on a touch sensitive video monitor. The transitive inference paradigm presented pairs of items and delivered rewards when subjects selected the item with the lower ordinal rank. After learning a list in one paradigm, subjects’ knowledge of that list was tested using the other paradigm. Performance was enhanced from the very start of transfer training. Transitive inference performance was characterized by ‘symbolic distance effects,’ whereby the ordinal distance between stimuli in the implied list ordering was strongly predictive of the probability of a correct response. The patterns of error displayed by subjects in both tasks were best explained by a spatially coded representation of list items, regardless of which task was used to learn the list. Our analysis permits properties of this representation to be investigated without the confound of verbal reasoning.
Learning of complex motor skills requires learning of component movements as well as the sequential structure of their order and timing. Using a Serial Interception Sequence Learning (SISL) task, participants learned a sequence of precisely timed interception responses through training with a repeating sequence. Following initial implicit learning of the repeating sequence, functional MRI data were collected during performance of that known sequence and compared with activity evoked during novel sequences of actions, novel timing patterns, or both. Reduced activity was observed during the practiced sequence in a distributed bilateral network including extrastriate occipital, parietal, and premotor cortical regions. These reductions in evoked activity likely reflect improved efficiency in visuospatial processing, spatio-motor integration, motor planning, and motor execution for the trained sequence, which is likely supported by nondeclarative skill learning. In addition, the practiced sequence evoked increased activity in the left ventral striatum and medial prefrontal cortex, while the posterior cingulate was more active during periods of better performance. Many prior studies of perceptual-motor skill learning have found increased activity in motor areas of frontal cortex (e.g., motor and premotor cortex, SMA) and striatal areas (e.g., the putamen). The change in activity observed here (i.e., decreased activity across a cortical network) may reflect skill learning that is predominantly expressed through more accurate performance rather than decreased reaction time.
sequence learning; implicit learning; nondeclarative memory; timing; motor control; fMRI
Much evidence has accumulated to indicate memory deficits in children with specific language impairment. However, most research has focused on working memory impairments in these children. Less is known about the functioning of other memory systems in this population.
This study examined procedural and declarative memory in young children with and without specific language impairment.
Methods & Procedures
A total of 15 children with specific language impairment and 15 non-impaired children of comparable age, gender and handedness were presented with measures of procedural and declarative memory. Procedural memory was assessed using a Serial Reaction Time (SRT) Task in which children implicitly learnt a ten-item sequence pattern. Declarative memory for verbal and visual information was assessed using paired associative learning tasks.
Outcomes & Results
The results from the SRT Task showed the children with specific language impairment did not learn the sequence at levels comparable with the non-impaired children. On the measures of declarative memory, differences between the groups were observed on the verbal but not the visual task. The differences on the verbal declarative memory task were found after statistically controlling for differences in vocabulary and phonological short-term memory.
Conclusions & Implications
The results were interpreted to suggest an uneven profile of memory functioning in specific language impairment. On measures of declarative memory, specific language impairment appears to be associated with difficulties learning verbal information. At the same time, procedural memory is also appears to be impaired. Collectively, this study indicates multiple memory impairments in specific language impairment.
specific language impairment (SLI); memory; language development; cognition