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In this paper we examine the role of stored semantic knowledge in recall from short-term memory. We assessed the performance of a patient (FK), who showed a consistent lack of semantic knowledge for some words ('unknown') but not others ('known') on a range of serial recall tasks using both spoken and written words. Overall, FK was significantly better at recalling lists of known compared with unknown words. His recall of unknown words was characterized by numerous phonological errors, such as repeating 'bear skunk' as 'bunk scare'. FK showed a relatively normal primacy effect in immediate recall, but a striking lack of a recency effect. This pattern of performance is useful for constraining theoretical accounts of language production and verbal short-term memory and for understanding the role that long-term semantic knowledge may play in maintaining information in short-term memory.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





13 - 27


Adult, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Cognition Disorders, Frontal Lobe, Humans, Language, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Memory, Short-Term, Mental Recall, Semantics, Speech, Tomography, X-Ray Computed, Verbal Learning, Wechsler Scales