Working Memory and Individual Differences in Mathematics Achievement: A Longitudinal Study From First Grade to Second Grade

J Exp Child Psychol. 2009 Jun;103(2):186-201. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2009.01.004. Epub 2009 Mar 17.


This longitudinal study examined the relationship between working memory and individual differences in mathematics. Working memory measures, comprising the phonological loop, the visuospatial sketchpad, and the central executive, were administered at the start of first grade. Mathematics achievement was assessed 4 months later (at the middle of first grade) and 1 year later (at the start of second grade). Working memory was significantly related to mathematics achievement in both grades, showing that working memory clearly predicts later mathematics achievement. The central executive was a unique predictor of both first- and second-grade mathematics achievement. There were age-related differences with regard to the contribution of the slave systems to mathematics performance; the visuospatial sketchpad was a unique predictor of first-grade, but not second-grade, mathematics achievement, whereas the phonological loop emerged as a unique predictor of second-grade, but not first-grade, mathematics achievement.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mathematics*
  • Memory, Short-Term*