Evaluating the developmental trajectory of the episodic buffer component of working memory and its relation to word recognition in children

J Exp Child Psychol. 2015 May:133:16-28. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2015.01.002. Epub 2015 Feb 25.


The creation of temporary bound representation of information from different sources is one of the key abilities attributed to the episodic buffer component of working memory. Whereas the role of working memory in word learning has received substantial attention, very little is known about the link between the development of word recognition skills and the ability to bind information in the episodic buffer of working memory and how it may develop with age. This study examined the performance of Grade 2 children (8 years old), Grade 3 children (9 years old), and young adults on a task designed to measure their ability to bind visual and auditory-verbal information in working memory. Children's performance on this task significantly correlated with their word recognition skills even when chronological age, memory for individual elements, and other possible reading-related factors were taken into account. In addition, clear developmental trajectories were observed, with improvements in the ability to hold temporary bound information in working memory between Grades 2 and 3, and between the child and adult groups, that were independent from memory for the individual elements. These findings suggest that the capacity to temporarily bind novel auditory-verbal information to visual form in working memory is linked to the development of word recognition in children and improves with age.

Keywords: Binding; Episodic buffer; Mandarin; Reading development; Word recognition; Working memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Language
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Development
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Young Adult