Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2001), 24:1:138-139 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © 2001 Cambridge University Press


Short Communication

Linguistic structure and short term memory


Emmanuel M. Pothos a1 and Patrick Juola a2
a1 School of Psychology, University of Bangor, Bangor LL57 2DG, United Kingdom e.pothos@bangor.ac.uk www.bangor.ac.uk/~pss41b
a2 Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA 15282 juola@mathcs.duq.edu www.mathcs.duq.edu/~juola

Abstract

We provide additional support for Cowan's claim that short term memory (STM) involves a range of 3–5 tokens, on the basis of language correlational analyses. If language is at least partly learned, linguistic dependency structure should reflect properties of the cognitive components mediating learning; one such component is STM. In this view, the range over which statistical regularity extends in ordinary text would be suggestive of STM span. Our analyses of eight languages are consistent with STM span being about four chunks.



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