Volume 14, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1871-1340
  • E-ISSN: 1871-1375
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Multiple theories predict that word learning is intimately linked to episodic memory, at least in the early phases of learning. However, it is unclear to what degree this link reflects more domain-specific (i.e., those dedicated to language or the lexicon) or more domain-general episodic memory processes that operate outside of language. One way to address this possibility is by using a behavioral individual differences design. This study examined whether behavioral individual differences in episodic memory abilities predicted adult word learning abilities. If behavioral performance in a nonlinguistic episodic memory task is predictive of behavioral performance in word learning, then it is likely that they share a common underlying nonlinguistic, memory-based mechanism. The results revealed that individual differences in episodic memory abilities predicted word learning abilities shortly after learning but not two days later. These behavioral results are consistent with prior neuropsychological observations (e.g., in amnesia: Kensinger, Ullman, & Corkin, 2001) as well as with theories positing a shift in reliance in lexical development from episodic memory to a distributed neocortical memory system after a period of sleep (e.g., Davis & Gaskell, 2009).


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): episodic memory; individual differences; word learning
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