Paradoxically, brain-damaged people with impairments
in the phonological output buffer produce phonemic
paraphasias with content words (e.g., bitar-butter) but
semantic paraphasias with number words (e.g., twenty
five-thirty eight). This is known as the Stimulus Type
Effect on Phonological and Semantic errors (STEPS).
Explanations for this phenomenon consider that preassembled
phonological representations exist for
numbers but not for content words in the phonological
output buffer. Here we explore two alternative
hypotheses based on the existence of two
methodological confounds: numbers are always
presented in homogeneous blocks and words in
heterogeneous blocks; number words are usually word
sequences that are compared to single content-words.
Two conduction aphasics took part in the study.
Experiment 1 did not confirm the role of lists in causing
the STEPS. Experiment 2 found more semantic
paraphasias (compared to phonemic paraphasias) both in
the repetition of multidigits (e.g., 673) and, more
importantly, in the repetition of color word sequences
(e.g., red-blue-green). The STEPS arises as consequence
of differences in resource demands. Number words have
not a special status in the phonological output buffer.