Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Caplan & Waters: Working memory and sentence comprehension

Backtracking? Rehearsing and replaying some old arguments about short-term memory

Rosaleen A. McCarthy a1 and E. K. Warrington a2
a1 Department of Experimental Psychology, Cambridge University, Cambridge CB2 3EB, England
a2 Dementia Research Group, National Hospitals, London WC1N 3BG, England


We discuss the role of short-term auditory verbal storage within a working memory system. Data from single case studies of patients with left parietal lesions and selective impairment of memory span are discussed in order to address the question of the functions of short-term memory in language processing. The backup resource of auditory verbal short-term memory is required for those tasks that necessitate backtracking in order to integrate a verbal message within a developing central cognitive representation.