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Short-term memory span in aphasia: Insights from speech-timing measures

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Christos Salis



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


© 2018 Elsevier Ltd Auditory-verbal short-term memory impairments are part and parcel of aphasia and interfere with linguistic processing. To date, the science about short-term memory impairments in aphasia has been generated and dominated by studying measures of accuracy, that is, span length. Because accuracy is expressed through speech, examining the speech-timing characteristics of persons with aphasia as they engage in spoken recall could reveal insights about the manner in which accuracy is achieved. Six speech-timing measures (e.g., response durations, pause durations) were elicited from the speech waveform of word span tasks from twelve people with aphasia. Speech-timing measures were compared to neuro-typical control participants. Speech-timing performance between erroneous and correct responses in the aphasia group was also examined. Across all measures, people with aphasia produced considerably longer speech-timing patterns in comparison to control participants. Memory load affected some measures in people with aphasia and control participants. Speech-timing in correct response trials was shorter than responses in erroneous trials. Memory span correlated only with one measure, namely, speech time (defined as the sum of each individual word duration in a response). Speech time also correlated with the following measures: Aphasia severity (Aphasia Quotient of the Western Aphasia Battery), spontaneous speech, and language comprehension (also measured by the Western Aphasia Battery). Some protracted speech-timing patterns in the aphasia group may be explained by a deregulation of activation-decay patterns. However, in the absence of further evidence from people with aphasia, possible issues around the sensitivity of some speech-timing measures limit firmer conclusions. Speech-timing measures are response-time measures, which have not been systematically studied in studies of short-term or working memory in aphasia and as such, can push the current boundaries of knowledge of short-term and working memory impairments in aphasia, not only in stroke related aphasia but also other neurological conditions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Salis C, Martin N, Meehan SV, McCaffery K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Neurolinguistics

Year: 2018

Volume: 48

Pages: 176-189

Print publication date: 01/11/2018

Online publication date: 04/05/2018

Acceptance date: 30/04/2018

Date deposited: 30/04/2018

ISSN (print): 0911-6044

ISSN (electronic): 1873-8052

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.jneuroling.2018.04.014


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