Individual differences in verbal short-term memory and reading aloud: Semantic compensation for weak phonological processing across

Nicola Savill, Piers Cornelissen, Junior Whiteley, Anna Woollams, Elizabeth Jefferies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

According to contemporary accounts, linguistic behaviour reflects the interaction of distinct representations supporting word meaning and phonology. However, there is controversy about the extent to which this interaction occurs within task-specific systems, specialised for reading and short-term memory, as opposed to between components that support the full range of linguistic tasks. We examined whether individual differences in the efficiency of phonological processing would relate to the application of lexical-semantic knowledge to support verbal short-term memory, single word reading and repetition. In a sample of 83 participants we related nonword performance in each task (as a marker of phonological capacity in the absence of meaning) to the effects of word imageability (a lexical-semantic variable). We found stronger reliance on lexical-semantic knowledge in participants with weaker phonological processing. This relationship held across tasks, suggesting that lexical-semantic processing can compensate for phonological weakness which would otherwise give rise to poor performance. Our results are consistent with separable yet interacting primary systems for phonology and semantics, with lexical-semantic knowledge supporting pattern completion within the phonological system in a similar way across short-term memory and reading tasks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1815-1831
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition
Volume45
Issue number10
Early online date27 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

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