Verbal and visuospatial working memory as predictors of children's reading ability

Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2014 Aug;29(5):467-77. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acu024. Epub 2014 May 31.


Children with reading difficulties often demonstrate weaknesses in working memory (WM). This research study explored the relation between two WM systems (verbal and visuospatial WM) and reading ability in a sample of school-aged children with a wide range of reading skills. Children (N = 157), ages 9-12, were administered measures of short-term memory, verbal WM, visuospatial WM, and reading measures (e.g., reading fluency and comprehension). Although results indicated that verbal WM was a stronger predictor in reading fluency and comprehension, visuospatial WM also significantly predicted reading skills, but provided more unique variance in reading comprehension than reading fluency. These findings suggest that visuospatial WM may play a significant role in higher level reading processes, particularly in reading comprehension, than previously thought.

Keywords: Attention; Comprehension; Fluency; Reading; Working memory.

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Comprehension
  • Dyslexia / diagnosis*
  • Dyslexia / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Regression Analysis
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Verbal Learning / physiology*