Working memory performance in children with mathematical disability


Zanjan University


Introduction: The purpose of this study was to examine the performance of working memory components (central executive, phonological loop, and visual-spatial sketchpad) in students with mathematical disability (MD) in comparison to students without MD.Method: 30 students (female and male) with MD from the Learning Disability Center of Zanjan and 30 elementary school students were matched according to IQ, age, gender and academic performance. The participants performed forward and backward Corsi span tests, counting span tests, and the Sun-Moon Stroop test. Data were analyzed using a T-test and logistic regression.Results: All working memory tasks showed significant differences between the scores of students with MD and students without MD, with the exception of the Corsi span results. Logistic regression analysis showed that impaired backward digit span test results (an assessment of the central executive system of working memory) are a strong predictor of learning disability in students with MD.Conclusion: Results indicated that phonological loop and central executive functioning play an important role in mathematical learning that is presented verbally given that these components of working memory are responsible for the maintenance of verbal information, inhibition of irrelevant information, the simultaneous processing of verbal and visual-spatial information, and the recovery of information from long-term memory. Deficits in these aspects of working memory may result in impaired mathematical learning.