Long-term associative learning predicts verbal short-term memory performance

Gary Jones, Bill Macken
2017 Memory & Cognition  
Studies using tests such as digit span and nonword repetition have implicated short-term memory across a range of developmental domains. Such tests ostensibly assess specialized processes for the short-term manipulation and maintenance of information that are often argued to enable longterm learning. However, there is considerable evidence for an influence of long-term linguistic learning on performance in short-term memory tasks that brings into question the role of a specialized short-term
more » ... ory system separate from longterm knowledge. Using natural language corpora, we show experimentally and computationally that performance on three widely used measures of short-term memory (digit span, nonword repetition, and sentence recall) can be predicted from simple associative learning operating on the linguistic environment to which a typical child may have been exposed. The findings support the broad view that short-term verbal memory performance reflects the application of long-term language knowledge to the experimental setting.
doi:10.3758/s13421-017-0759-3 pmid:28971367 pmcid:PMC5809536 fatcat:x2hgseuj6jhbjdbz3z7tjtq6bi