MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

Working memory deficits

Do working memory deficits predict developmental impairments of learning?

Data from the first 230 children attending the research clinic were analysed in order to determine whether deficits in working memory (WM) were characteristic of children with reading and mathematics difficulties. WM performance was related to reading and mathematics scores. Although deficits in individual tests of short-term memory (STM) and WM occurred in less than half of the children with detected learning difficulties, three-quarters of the children with low reading and mathematics scores obtained one or more WM scores in the deficit range. WM impairments are therefore a common symptom of children making poor educational progress in reading and mathematics. This is consistent with proposals that WM or the broader cognitive dimensions it taps impedes school-based learning.


Lead researcher: Professor Susan Gathercole, Unit Director and Programme Leader


Publication: Gathercole, S. E., Woolgar, F., Kievit, R. A., Astle, D., Manly, T., CALM Team, & Holmes, J., (2016). How common are WM deficits in children with difficulties in reading and mathematics? Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition


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