Working, declarative, and procedural memory in children with developmental language disorder
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Purpose: Previous research into the working, declarative, and procedural memory systems in children with developmental language disorder (DLD) has yielded inconsistent results. The purpose of this research was to profile these memory systems in children with DLD and their typically developing peers. Method: One hundred four 5-to 8-year-old children participated in the study. Fifty had DLD, and 54 were typically developing. Aspects of the working memory system (verbal short-term memory, verbal working memory, and visual– spatial short-term memory) were assessed using a nonword repetition test and subtests from the Working Memory Test Battery for Children. Verbal and visual–spatial declarative memory were measured using the Children’s Memory Scale, and an audiovisual serial reaction time task was used to evaluate procedural memory. Results: The children with DLD demonstrated significant impairments in verbal short-term and working memory, visual–spatial short-term memory, verbal declarative memory, and procedural memory. However, verbal declarative memory and procedural memory were no longer impaired after controlling for working memory and nonverbal IQ. Declarative memory for visual–spatial information was unimpaired. Conclusions: These findings indicate that children with DLD have deficits in the working memory system. While verbal declarative memory and procedural memory also appear to be impaired, these deficits could largely be accounted for by working memory skills. The results have implications for our understanding of the cognitive processes underlying language impairment in the DLD population; however, further investigation of the relationships between the memory systems is required using tasks that measure learning over long-term intervals.
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