Visual and auditory working memory in children with arithmetic learning disabilities

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Gallagher, David
Issue Date
BA in Psychology
Dublin Business School
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Studies have shown a significant correlation between learning disorders and deficits of working memory (O'Connor & Herminlin, 1973; Baddeley, Papagno & Valler, 1998). Relationships between Mathematical learning disorders and deficits of working memory have also been suggested (Little & Widaman, 1995; Geary, Brown & Smaranyake, 1991). The aim of this study is to investigate the visual and auditory working memory of children who suffer from arithmetic learning disorders. The participant sample consisted of eight pupils (1 girl and 7 boys) who scored below seventy on the W AIS test and had particular difficulty in arithmetic. Basic arithmetic tests were used to ascertain whether the participants performed mental arithmetic more efficiently when the questions were presented aurally or visually and whether they had difficulty holding the information in their working memory while they carried out these mental arithmetic tests. The results of this study (t = 3.494, df= 7, P = .010,) showed that the participants were capable of performing the mental arithmetic faster when the information was presented visually and the question was left in front of them for the duration of the question. This suggests that children with arithmetic learning difficulties have difficulty holding mathematical information in their working memory because of the temporary nature of the store.