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Prior neuropsychological evidence suggests that semantic and phonological components of short-term memory (STM) are functionally and neurologically distinct. The current paper examines proactive interference (PI) from semantic and phonological information in two STM-impaired patients, DS (semantic STM deficit) and AK (phonological STM deficit). In Experiment 1 probe recognition tasks with open and closed sets of stimuli were used. Phonological PI was assessed using nonword items, and semantic and phonological PI was assessed using words. In Experiment 2 phonological and semantic PI was elicited by an item recognition probe test with stimuli that bore phonological and semantic relations to the probes. The data suggested heightened phonological PI for the semantic STM patient, and exaggerated effects of semantic PI in the phonological STM case. The findings are consistent with an account of extremely rapid decay of activated type-specific representations in cases of severely impaired phonological and semantic STM.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





972 - 989


Phonological proactive interference, Phonological short-term memory deficits, Proactive interference, Semantic proactive inteference, Semantic short-term memory deficits, Aged, Aphasia, Broca, Discrimination (Psychology), Humans, Male, Memory Disorders, Memory, Short-Term, Mental Processes, Neuropsychological Tests, Proactive Inhibition, Psychomotor Performance, Recognition (Psychology), Semantics, Speech