Relationships among processing speed, working memory, and fluid intelligence in children

Biol Psychol. 2000 Oct;54(1-3):1-34. doi: 10.1016/s0301-0511(00)00051-x.


The present review focuses on three issues, (a) the time course of developmental increases in cognitive abilities; (b) the impact of age on individual differences in these abilities, and (c) the mechanisms by which developmental increases in different aspects of cognition affect each other. We conclude from our review of the literature that the development of processing speed, working memory, and fluid intelligence, all follow a similar time course, suggesting that all three abilities develop in concert. Furthermore, the strength of the correlation between speed and intelligence does not appear to change with age, and most of the effect of the age-related increase in speed on intelligence appears to be mediated through the effect of speed on working memory. Finally, most of the effect of the age-related improvement in working memory on intelligence is itself attributable to the effect of the increase in speed on working memory, providing evidence of a cognitive developmental cascade.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence*
  • Memory*
  • Reaction Time*
  • Reference Values