Boudreau, D., & Costanza-Smith, A. (2011). Assessment and treatment of working memory deficits in school-age children: The role of the speech-language pathologist. Language, Speech, and Hearing Sciences in Schools, 42, 152-166.
This article provides a clinically useful summary of working memory theory, relationship to language and language impairment, and assessment and intervention issues.
Working memory refers to the temporary storage and processing of information. Working memory is considered to have both domain-specific short-term storage (memory) systems for holding information in mind, and a domain-general central executive responsible for controlling attention and allocating resources (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974). The short-term memory system responsible for holding phonological information in mind, phonological short-term memory, is thought to play an important role in the learning of new word forms (Gathercole, 2006). Working memory for phonological/verbal information taps both phonological short-term memory and the central executive, and is referred to as functional working memory by Boudreau and Costanza-Smith. Functional working memory has been found to be related to more complex skills such as language comprehension and academic achievement. As well, poor phonological short-term memory and functional working memory have been implicated in language impairment given evidence that children with language impairment do poorly on such tasks.
Clinicians may find information about a child’s phonological short-term memory and functional memory are in psychoeducational assessment reports. In addition, standardized tests of phonological processing and language sometimes include tasks that tap these processes. Evidence regarding working memory intervention is reviewed along with classroom strategies that may facilitate learning in children with weak working memory.
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