Phonological short-term store impairment after cerebellar lesion: A single case study

Francesca R. Chiricozzi, Silvia Clausi, Marco Molinari, Maria G. Leggio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cerebellum is a recent addition to the growing list of cerebral areas involved in the multifaceted structural system that sustains verbal working memory (vWM), but its contribution is still a matter of debate. Here, we present a patient with a selective deficit of vWM resulting from a bilateral cerebellar ischemic lesion. After this acute event, the patient had impaired immediate and delayed word-serial recall and auditory-verbal delayed recognition. The digit span, however, was completely preserved. To investigate the cerebellar contribution to vWM, four experiments addressing the function of different vWM phonological loop components were performed 18 months after the lesion, and results were compared with normative data or, when needed, with a small group of matched controls. In Experiment 1, digit span was assessed with different presentation and response modalities using lists of digits of varying lengths. In Experiment 2, the articulatory rehearsal system was analyzed by measurement of word length and articulatory suppression effects. Experiment 3 was devoted to analyzing the phonological short-term store (ph-STS) by the recency effect, the phonological similarity effect, short-term forgetting, and unattended speech. Data suggested a possible key role of the semantic component of the processed material, which was tested in Experiment 4, in which word and nonword-serial recall with or without interpolating activity were analyzed. The patient showed noticeably reduced scores in the tasks that primarily or exclusively engaged activity of the ph-STS, namely those of Experiment 3, and good performance in the tests that investigated the recirculation of verbal information. This pattern of results implicates the ph-STS as the cognitive locus of the patient's deficit. This report demonstrates a cerebellar role in encoding and/or strengthening the phonological traces in vWM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1940-1953
Number of pages14
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


  • Cerebellum
  • Lexical-semantic coding
  • Verbal span
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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