Syntax may be the key to better comprehension and retention in verbal and non-verbal working memory tasks.


Understanding there are differences between thought and language is useful when attempting to communicate effectively and succinctly with others. Psychology's 'serial-position effect' describes the tendency of people to remember the first (primacy effect) and last (recency effect) verbal and non-verbal (written) stimuli they encounter. This is widely accepted in the English language but does the same memory phenomena extend to non-English languages? The authors discuss research findings comparing language direction implications for working memory retention: Right branching, where the main idea is followed by a modifying idea ("the CO wants a brief on communication"), and left branching, being the reverse ("who wants a brief on communication, the CO"). As ADF members we are frequently exposed to other languages via interoperable exercises, exchange postings, on operations, and in our daily routines with culturally diverse colleagues. Whilst knowing how to speak their language may allow communication it doesn't guarantee the effectiveness of the communication. The implications of this study for the ADF has the potential to influence how languages are learned and used in diverse cultural settings. Improving Air Force's interoperability and capability through precision is not limited to weapon systems, it also extends to our ability to communicate.