Short-term memory for order but not for item information is impaired in developmental dyslexia

Wibke M. Hachmann, Louisa Bogaerts, Arnaud Szmalec, Evy Woumans, Wouter Duyck, Remo Job

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Recent findings suggest that people with dyslexia experience difficulties with the learning of serial order information during the transition from short- to long-term memory (Szmalec et al. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition 37(5): 1270-1279, 2011). At the same time, models of short-term memory increasingly incorporate a distinction of order and item processing (Majerus et al. Cognition 107: 395-419, 2008). The current study is aimed to investigate whether serial order processing deficiencies in dyslexia can be traced back to a selective impairment of short-term memory for serial order and whether this impairment also affects processing beyond the verbal domain. A sample of 26 adults with dyslexia and a group of age and IQ-matched controls participated in a 2 × 2 × 2 experiment in which we assessed short-term recognition performance for order and item information, using both verbal and nonverbal material. Our findings indicate that, irrespective of the type of material, participants with dyslexia recalled the individual items with the same accuracy as the matched control group, whereas the ability to recognize the serial order in which those items were presented appeared to be affected in the dyslexia group. We conclude that dyslexia is characterized by a selective impairment of short-term memory for serial order, but not for item information, and discuss the integration of these findings into current theoretical views on dyslexia and its associated dysfunctions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-136
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of Dyslexia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Developmental dyslexia
  • Domain specificity
  • Reading
  • Serial order processing
  • Short-term memory


Dive into the research topics of 'Short-term memory for order but not for item information is impaired in developmental dyslexia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this