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Phonological networks and new word learning

  • Elisabet Service (a1)


The first report of a connection between vocabulary learning and phonological short-term memory was published in 1988 (Baddeley, Papagno, & Vallar, 1988). At that time, both Susan Gathercole and I were involved in longitudinal studies, investigating the relation between nonword repetition and language learning. We both found a connection. Now, almost 20 years later, in her Keynote Gathercole (2006) reviews a multitude of data bearing on the interpretation of this often replicated connection. Her main conclusions are three. First, both nonword repetition and word learning are constrained by the quality of temporary storage. She sees this storage as multiply determined, that is, affected by factors like perceptual analysis, phonological awareness (ability to identify and reflect on the speech sounds that make up words). Second, both nonword repetition and word learning are also affected by sensory, cognitive, and motor processes. Third, an impairment of phonological storage is typically associated with specific language impairment (SLI) but may not be a sole causal factor.



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Gathercole S. E. 2006. Nonword repetition and word learning: The nature of the relationship [Keynote]. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27, 513543.
Laasonen M., Oinonen S., Sandbacka M., Vedenpää A., Virsu V., & Service E. 2006. Phonological and sensory short-term memory impairment in developmental dyslexia. Manuscript submitted for publication.
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Luotoniemi E., Service E., & Maury S. (in press). Good and bad effects of phonological similarity on word and nonword recall: The role of beginnings and ends. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology.
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Wagner R. K., & Torgesen J. K. 1987. The nature of phonological processing and its causal role in the acquisition of reading skills. Psychological Bulletin, 101, 192212.
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