To determine whether early-implanted, long-term cochlear implant (CI) users display delays in verbal short-term and working memory
capacity when processes related to audibility and speech production are eliminated.
Twenty-three long-term CI users and 23 normal-hearing controls each completed forward and backward digit span tasks under testing conditions that differed in presentation modality (auditory or visual) and response output (spoken recall or manual pointing).
Normal-hearing controls reproduced more lists of digits than the CI users, even when the test items were presented visually and the responses were made manually via touchscreen response.
Short-term and working memory
delays observed in CI users are not due to greater demands from peripheral sensory processes such as audibility or from overt speech-motor planning and response output organization. Instead, CI users are less efficient at encoding and maintaining phonological representations in verbal short-term memory
using phonological and linguistic strategies during memory tasks.