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date: 22 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines what roles, if any, working memory plays in the human capabilities to handle language. One possibility is that language comprehension is dependent upon working memory, as a consequence of the ephemeral nature of the speech input. A second is that the working memory system supports the learning of language rather than language processing per se. The article argues that in fact this is by far the most significant contribution made by working memory to the human facility with language. Individually and in concert, the subsystems of working memory play vital and highly specific roles, both in language learning in particular and in learning more generally. The article first describes the concept of working memory, and then discusses sentence processing and short-term memory, vocabulary acquisition and verbal short-term memory, and specific language impairment and working memory.

Keywords: working memory, language comprehension, language, sentence processing, short-term memory, vocabulary acquisition, language impairment, language processing

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