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

Savill, Nicola, Cornelissen, Piers, Whiteley, Junior, Woollams, Anna and Jeffries, Elizabeth (2019) Individual differences in verbal short-term memory and reading aloud: Semantic compensation for weak phonological processing across tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, 45 (10). pp. 1815-1831. ISSN 0278-7393

ID_Behav_MS_APA_MLM_R1_no highlight.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (1MB) | Preview
Official URL:


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.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © American Psychological Association, 2018. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at:
Uncontrolled Keywords: semantic; phonological; verbal short-term memory; reading aloud; word repetition; individual differences
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2018 08:29
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2019 13:04

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Policies: NRL Policies | NRL University Deposit Policy | NRL Deposit Licence