Phonological short-term memory in conduction aphasia

Aviah Gvion, Naama Friedmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Within cognitive neuropsychological models conduction aphasia has been conceptualised as a phonological buffer deficit. It may affect the output buffer, the input buffer, or both. The phonological output buffer is a short-term storage, responsible for the short-term maintenance of phonological units until their articulation, as well as for phonological and morphological composition. The phonological input buffer holds input strings until they are identified in the input lexicon. Thus the phonological buffers are closely related to phonological short-term memory (pSTM), and hence it is important to assess pSTM in conduction aphasia. Because the input and output buffers play different roles, impairment in each of them predicts different impairments in the patient's ability to understand certain sentences, to learn new words and names, and to remember and recall lists of words and numbers for short time periods.This research was supported by a research grant from the National Institute for Psychobiology in Israel (Friedmann 2004-5-2b), by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 1296/06, Friedmann), and by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD), Macquarie University.Aims: This study explored in detail pSTM in individuals with conduction aphasia, comparing individuals with input and output deficits, recall and recognition tasks, and stimuli of various types. It also tested pSTM in six age groups of healthy individuals, assessing the effect of age on various types of stimuli. This paper presents a new battery of 10 recall and recognition span tests, designed to assess pSTM in aphasia and to measure spans and effects on spans.Methods & Procedures: The participants were 14 Hebrew-speaking individuals with conduction aphasia, 12 with input or input-output phonological buffer deficit, and 2 with only output deficit, and 296 healthy individuals.Outcomes & Results: The analyses of the spans and effects on pSTM in the 10 tests indicated that all the participants with conduction aphasia had limited pSTM, significantly poorer than that of the control participants, and no semantic STM impairment. They had shorter spans, smaller length and similarity effects, and larger sentential effect than the controls. The individuals with conduction aphasia who had an impairment in the phonological input buffer showed deficit in both the recall and recognition span tasks. The individuals with the output conduction aphasia showed impairment only in the recall tasks. The healthy individuals showed age effect on span tasks involving words, but no effect of age on span tasks of nonwords.Conclusions: pSTM is impaired in conduction aphasia, and different pSTM impairments characterise different types of conduction aphasia. Output conduction aphasia causes difficulties only when verbal output is required, whereas input conduction aphasia also causes a deficit when only recognition is required. This suggests that rehearsal can take place without the phonological output buffer. Age differentially affects pSTM for words and nonwords in healthy adults: whereas the encoding of words changes, the ability to remember nonwords is unchanged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-614
Number of pages36
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Aphasia
  • Conduction aphasia
  • Hebrew
  • Phonological buffer
  • Short-term memory
  • STM
  • Working memory


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