Thursday, July 11, 2019

Working memory profiles of children with dyslexia, developmental language disorder, or both

Gray et al. (2019). Working memory profiles of children with dyslexia, developmental language disorder, or both. JSLHR, 62, 1839-1858.

The ability to briefly hold information in mind and manipulate it is referred to as Working Memory. Working memory supports the completion of complex cognitive tasks in the moment. As we complete a task, we often have to remember some piece of information and add to it or change it as we go. Working memory supports this kind of work. It has been suggested that working memory supports both language learning and reading skills. Evidence showing an association with working memory has been demonstrated for both those with deficits in language learning known as Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and those with dyslexia, a reading disorder usually attributed to a phonological processing deficit. Nevertheless, not all children with these disorders have been found to have a working memory impairment.

The purpose of this study was to systematically explore the relationship between working memory functioning and profiles of DLD and dyslexia. Children in grade 2 who either had DLD, dyslexia, both DLD and dyslexia, or typical development completed standardized tests of language, vocabulary, word reading, nonverbal intelligence, and others. The participants also completed a battery of working memory measures tapping storage and manipulation of information with auditory nonverbal, visual nonverbal, and number-based stimuli. The working memory battery also included storage-only tasks with either verbal or nonverbal stimuli, and tasks requiring binding of material that was either phonological or visuo-spatial, or both. Findings revealed that working memory profiles were not consistently associated with diagnostic category. That is, low (and high) working memory profiles occurred in children in the typically developing group, as well as in the DLD, dyslexia, and DLD/dyslexia group.

The authors argued that assessing working memory could contribute to the understanding of an individual child’s profile of strengths and weaknesses, which could help to direct intervention.

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