An examination of the memory and linguistic factors related to nonword repetition performance

Dudiak, Helen Diane (2000) An examination of the memory and linguistic factors related to nonword repetition performance. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Nonword repetition is a widely used measure of phonological working memory (PWM) especially in research into vocabulary development. However, evidence exists to suggest that measures of PWM are also influenced by long-term memory (LTM) (e.g. Watkins, 1977) and echoic memory (Frankish, 1996). Others have also suggested a role for linguistic skills in nonword repetition tests (Snowling, Chiat & Hulme, 1991; Frankish, 1996). The aim of this research is to examine the memory and linguistic factors related to nonword repetition test performance in 4, 5 and 6 year old children as this is an age where a changing relationship between nonword repetition and vocabulary has been found (e.g. Gathercole, Willis, Emslie & Baddeley, 1992). This was achieved through 1) a longitudinal sequential study of the use of LTM to support short-term memory (STM) tasks and 2) a series of quasi-experiments comparing children of high and low nonword repetition skills in terms of LTM, the individual components of PWM, echoic memory and specific linguistic skills. The longitudinal sequential study revealed that young children use LTM to support their STM task performance and that this support may not be confined to lexical items. Whilst these results are far from conclusive they do raise the possibility that LTM may have a role in nonword repetition task performance. The quasi-experimental studies revealed differences between children with high and
low nonword repetition skills on measures of echoic memory and in the ability to segment and blend sounds in spoken words. Taken together these results suggest that a child's performance on measures of nonword repetition is influenced, not
only by PWM skills, but also by LTM, echoic memory and the skills involved in the segmentation and blending of sounds in spoken language.

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