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Neuropsychologia. 1993 Feb;31(2):161-72.

Short-term memory impairments in Alzheimer-type dementia: evidence for separable impairments of articulatory rehearsal and long-term memory.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of York, U.K.


Two experiments are described which investigate the short-term memory deficits found in Alzheimer-type dementia. In the first experiment memory span for words of differing spoken duration is related to speech rate. Memory span was lower in subjects suffering from Alzheimer-type dementia than for normal elderly controls but in both cases a linear function related recall to speech rate for items of differing spoken durations. The function for Alzheimer subjects had an equivalent slope (interpreted as reflecting a contribution from a sub-vocal rehearsal process) but a lower intercept (interpreted as reflecting a contribution from a long-term memory component). The second experiment investigated the effects of repeating supra-span lists of items in a serial recall task. As predicted the control subjects showed substantial increases in recall across trials associated with elevations of the speech rate/recall functions while the Alzheimer subjects showed very little benefit from repetition of the lists. We conclude that the verbal short-term memory deficit found in Alzheimer-type dementia has two components: a deficit in the rate of rehearsal and an impairment in the long-term memory component of short-term recall.

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