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Role of working memory in children's understanding spoken narrative: A preliminary investigation



The role of phonological short-term memory (PSTM), attentional resource capacity/allocation, and processing speed on children's spoken narrative comprehension was investigated. Sixty-seven children (6–11 years) completed a digit span task (PSTM), concurrent verbal processing and storage (CPS) task (resource capacity/allocation), auditory–visual reaction time (AVRT) task (processing speed), and the Test of Narrative Language. Correlation and regression analyses examined the association between the memory variables and comprehension. The main findings were (a) CPS and AVRT correlated with comprehension and (b) after accounting for age, CPS accounted for a significant 7.9% of unique variance and AVRT accounted for another significant 5.2%. The results indicate that resource capacity/allocation and processing speed are important to children's ability to understand spoken narrative.


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ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE James W. Montgomery, School of Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences, W231, Grover Center, College of Health & Human Services, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701. E-mail:


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