Short-Term and Working Memory Impairments in Early-Implanted, Long-Term Cochlear Implant Users Are Independent of Audibility and Speech Production

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Objective: To determine whether early-implanted, long-term cochlear implant (CI) users display delays in verbal short-term and working memory capacity when processes related to audibility and speech production are eliminated. Design: Twenty-three long-term CI users and 23 normal-hearing controls each completed forward and backward digit span tasks under testing conditions that differed in presentation modality (auditory or visual) and response output (spoken recall or manual pointing). Results: Normal-hearing controls reproduced more lists of digits than the CI users, even when the test items were presented visually and the responses were made manually via touchscreen response. Conclusions: Short-term and working memory delays observed in CI users are not due to greater demands from peripheral sensory processes such as audibility or from overt speech-motor planning and response output organization. Instead, CI users are less efficient at encoding and maintaining phonological representations in verbal short-term memory using phonological and linguistic strategies during memory tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)733-737
Number of pages5
JournalEar and hearing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015



  • Auditory digit span
  • Short-term memory
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing

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