Long-term memory is the representational basis for semantic verbal short-term memory

Katherine A. Cameron, Henk J. Haarmann, Jordan Grafman, Daniel S. Ruchkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The present study supports activation models of verbal short-term memory that include a semantic contribution to the retention process. Event-related brain potentials were used to probe the level of activation of semantic representations of a series of words in a delay interval following their presentation. The levels of activation were compared in two tasks: (1) a short-term memory task that involved a semantic judgment in the recall phase following the delay interval, and (2) a nonmemory control task. The level of semantic activation during the delay interval was higher in the short-term memory task, indicating that enhanced activation of semantic representations is involved in the short-term storage of verbal information. This result implies that activated long-term memory provides a representational basis for semantic verbal short-term memory, and hence supports theories that postulate that short- and long-term stores are not separate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)643-653
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Activation
  • Event-related potentials
  • Long-term memory
  • Semantic
  • Short-term memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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