MEMORY CAPACITY IN SCHOOL-AGE MANDARIN-SPEAKING CHILDREN WITH SPECIFIC LANGUAGE IMPAIRMENT
Ten school-age Mandarin-speaking children with specific language impairment (SLI) were tested with three memory tasks: (1) a position probe task, (2) a missing object task and (3) a word span task. Two control groups, one age-matched and one language-matched, were also tested. In the three tasks, children with SLI performed significantly poorer than the age-matched controls only in the object position probe task, a test on spatial memory. When compared with the younger language-matched controls, the SLI group performed at the same level in all three tasks. These findings indicated that these school-age children with SLI suffered a deficit in memorizing spatial positions of an array of objects but not in their memory for verbal stimuli. During the experiment, it was also observed that most children, both SLI and normally developing controls, did vocally or sub-vocally rehearse the stimuli in the two spatial memory tasks. Therefore, it is very likely that they had converted the spatial memory tasks into verbal memory tasks and thus the deficit our SLI subjects displayed is still verbal in nature.