Searching for the Hebb effect in Down syndrome: Evidence for a dissociation between verbal short-term memory and domain-general learning of serial order

EK Mosse, C Jarrold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background The Hebb effect is a form of repetition-driven long-term learning that is thought to provide an analogue for the processes involved in new word learning. Other evidence suggests that verbal short-term memory also constrains now vocabulary acquisition, but if the Hebb effect is independent of short-term memory, then it may be possible to demonstrate its preservation in a sample of individuals with Down syndrome, who typically show a verbal short-term memory deficit alongside surprising relative strengths in vocabulary. Methods In two experiments, individuals both with and without Down syndrome (matched for receptive vocabulary) completed immediate serial recall tasks incorporating a Hebb repetition paradigm in either verbal or visuospatial conditions. Results Both groups demonstrated equivalent benefit from Hebb repetition, despite individuals with Down syndrome showing significantly lower verbal short-term memory spans. The resultant Hebb effect was equivalent across verbal and visuospatial domains. Conclusions These studies suggest that the Hebb effect is essentially preserved within Down syndrome, implying that explicit verbal short-term memory is dissociable from potentially more implicit Hebb learning. The relative strength in receptive vocabulary observed in Down syndrome may therefore be supported by largely intact long-term as opposed to short-term serial order learning. This in turn may have implications for teaching methods and interventions that present new phonological material to individuals with Down syndrome.
Translated title of the contributionSearching for the Hebb effect in Down syndrome: Evidence for a dissociation between verbal short-term memory and domain-general learning of serial order
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295 - 307
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Volume54
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010

Structured keywords

  • Developmental

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