Three patients with semantic dementia, involving progressive deterioration of semantic memory, performed immediate serial recall of short sequences of familiar words. On the basis of their performance in other tasks of word comprehension and production, the stimuli were selected individually for each patient as either known or unknown words. All patients showed a marked advantage in recall of known as compared to familiar but now unknown words. Errors consisted primarily of incorrect combinations of correct phoneme sequences in the stimulus string, with a large number of errors preserving onsethime syllable structure (e.g., mint, rug reproduced as “rint, mug”). Discussion focuses on the implication of these errors for the structure of phonological representations, and in particular on a hypothesis that meaning plays a crucial role in binding the elements of phonological word forms.

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