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Relationships Between Working Memory and Academic Skills: Are There Differences Between Children With Intellectual Disabilities and Typically Developing Children?

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In typically developing children, working memory is linked to academic skills. However, little is known about the role working memory plays for learning in children with intellectual disabilities (ID). Therefore, the aims of this study were to examine whether different working memory functions are related to reading, spelling, and calculating in children with ID of nonspecific etiology and whether these relationships are different from the ones found in typically developing children. Forty-seven children with mild-to-borderline ID and 47 children matched for mental age were tested. Although in typically developing children, only phonological short-term memory tasks were predictive for literacy, for children with ID, visuospatial working memory tasks also accounted for variance. In typically developing children, calculation skills were predicted by phonological working memory tasks, whereas visuospatial working memory resources were crucial for children with ID. Several possible explanations are discussed for discrepancies in prediction patterns.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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