Verbal short-term memory deficits in Down syndrome: a consequence of problems in rehearsal?

C Jarrold, Alan Baddeley, A K Hewes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Individuals with Down syndrome suffer from relatively poor verbal short-term memory. Previous explanations of this deficit have been framed in terms of inefficient or absent rehearsal of verbal material in Down syndrome within the phonological loop component of Baddeley and Hitch's (1974) working memory model. Two experiments are presented which test this explanation by looking for the markers of rehearsal in children with Down syndrome and verbal mental age matched controls. Both experiments confirm that individuals with Down syndrome show poorer verbal short-term memory performance than controls. However, they rule out rehearsal as an explanation of these deficits because the evidence suggests that neither individuals with Down syndrome nor matched controls are engaging in spontaneous subvocal rehearsal. Other explanations of poor verbal short-term memory performance in Down syndrome, in terms of impairments both within and outside of the phonological loop system, are discussed. Practical implications for intervention strategies aimed at improving verbal short-term memory skills in Down syndrome are also outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-44
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of child psychology and psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Child
  • Down Syndrome
  • Humans
  • Learning Disorders
  • Memory Disorders
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Phonetics
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Speech Disorders
  • Time Factors
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Vocabulary

Cite this