Verbal short-term memory in Down syndrome: a problem of memory, audition, or speech?

Christopher Jarrold, Alan Baddeley, Caroline E Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study explored three possible explanations of poor verbal short-term memory performance among individuals with Down syndrome in an attempt to determine whether the condition is associated with a fundamental verbal short-term memory deficit. The short-term memory performance of a group of 19 children and young adults with Down syndrome was contrasted with that of two control groups matched for level of receptive vocabulary. The specificity of a deficit was assessed by comparing memory for verbal and visuo-spatial information. The effect of auditory problems on performance was examined by contrasting memory for auditorily presented material with that for material presented both auditorily and visually. The influence of speech-motor difficulties was investigated by employing both a traditional recall procedure and a serial recognition procedure that reduced spoken response demands. Results confirmed that individuals with Down syndrome do show impaired verbal short-term memory performance for their level of receptive vocabulary. The findings also indicated that this deficit is specific to memory for verbal information and is not primarily caused by auditory or speech-production difficulties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-44
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research (JSLHR)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Down Syndrome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Tests
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Middle Aged
  • Speech Disorders
  • Speech Perception

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