Verbal and visual-spatial working memory and mathematical ability in different domains throughout primary school
Number of pages
SourceMemory & Cognition, 43, 3, (2015), pp. 367-378
Article / Letter to editor
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Memory & Cognition
SubjectLearning and Plasticity
The relative importance of visual-spatial and verbal working memory for mathematics performance and learning seems to vary with age, the novelty of the material, and the specific math domain that is investigated. In this study, the relations between verbal and visual-spatial working memory and performance in four math domains (i.e., addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) at different ages during primary school are investigated. Children (N = 4337) from grades 2 through 6 participated. Visual-spatial and verbal working memory were assessed using online computerized tasks. Math performance was assessed at the start, middle, and end of the school year using a speeded arithmetic test. Multilevel Multigroup Latent Growth Modeling was used to model individual differences in level and growth in math performance, and examine the predictive value of working memory per grade, while controlling for effects of classroom membership. The results showed that as grade level progressed, the predictive value of visual-spatial working memory for individual differences in level of mathematics performance waned, while the predictive value of verbal working memory increased. Working memory did not predict individual differences between children in their rate of performance growth throughout the school year. These findings are discussed in relation to three, not mutually exclusive, explanations for such age-related findings.
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