The Development of Working Memory in Normally Achieving and Subtypes of Learning Disabled Children
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Working memory has been proposed as an important component of reading and arithmetic skills. The development of working memory was studied in normally achieving and subtypes of learning disabled children. The performance of reading disabled (RD), arithmetic disabled (ARITHD), and attentional deficit disordered (ADD) children, age 7-13, was compared to normal achievers (NA) on 2 working memory tasks, 1 involving sentences and the other involving counting. There was a significant growth of working memory as a function of age. In addition, the RD children had significantly lower scores on both tasks. The ARITHD children had significantly lower scores only on the Working Memory--Counting task, and the ADD group had scores similar to the normally achieving children except at the youngest age level in the Working Memory--Sentences task. Thus, a reading disability appears to involve a generalized deficit in working memory. Children with an arithmetic disability do not have a generalized language deficit but have a specific working memory deficit in relation to processing numerical information. As children with ADD did not have deficits in these tasks, working memory may not have significant attentional components. An important component of the development of reading and computational arithmetic skills appears to be the growth of working memory for language and numerical information.
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