Phonological Short-term Store and Sentence Processing

Giuseppe Vallar, Alan Baddeley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The grammatical and semantic processing of auditorily presented sentences and passages of prose was investigated in a left brain-damaged patient (PV), who has a reduced auditory memory span, interpreted in terms of a selective deficit of the phonological short-term store component of working memory. In the case of short sentences the patient's performance is well within the normal range, whether tested by sentence-picture matching or by the detection of syntactic or semantic anomalies. She retains an intact capacity to detect semantic anomalies whether tested using short sentences, long sentences, or prose passages. She retains some capacity for detecting syntactic anomalies even in long sentences, provided these are tested under conditions where such mismatches are very frequent; when they are embedded in more varied material, however, her performance deteriorates. Finally, when the syntactic anomaly involves an anaphoric mismatch across sentences, her performance drops to chance level. These results are consistent with the view that the short-term phonological store serves as a “mnemonic window” that facilitates certain aspects of the comprehension of sentential material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-438
Number of pages22
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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