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Mem Cognit. 1998 Nov;26(6):1117-30.

Verbal and visuospatial short-term memory in children: evidence for common and distinct mechanisms.

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  • 1University of Bristol, England.


This study was designed to identify whether verbal and visuospatial short-term memory performance in children is served by common or distinct mechanisms. Five- and 8-year-old children were tested on their verbal recall of spoken letter names and digits, and on their recall of tapped sequences of blocks. The performance of the children on the verbal and visuospatial serial recall tasks was largely unrelated, extending evidence for dissociable memory systems found in adults. Detailed characteristics of recall, such as serial position functions, migration patterns, and distribution of error types, were similar in the tasks requiring recall of letters and of blocks, although order errors predominated in the block but not the letter recall task for the older children. These results appear to reflect the application of common processes specialized for the extraction of serial order information from the phonological and visuospatial components of short-term memory.

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