Role of Working Memory in Typically Developing Children’s Complex Sentence Comprehension
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- Montgomery, J.W., Magimairaj, B.M. & O’Malley, M.H. J Psycholinguist Res (2008) 37: 331. doi:10.1007/s10936-008-9077-z
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The influence of three mechanisms of working memory (phonological short-term memory (PSTM capacity), attentional resource control/allocation, and processing speed) on children’s complex (and simple) sentence comprehension was investigated. Fifty two children (6–12 years) completed a nonword repetition task (indexing PSTM), concurrent verbal processing-storage task (indexing resource control/allocation), auditory-visual reaction time (RT) task (indexing processing speed), and a sentence comprehension task that included complex and simple sentences. Correlation and regression analyses were run to determine the association between the memory variables and sentence comprehension accuracy. Results revealed: (1) none of the memory variables correlated with simple sentence comprehension, (2) resource control/allocation and processing speed correlated significantly with complex sentence comprehension, even after covarying for age, and (3) attentional functioning and processing speed predicted complex sentence comprehension (after accounting for age). Results were interpreted to suggest that working memory is significantly involved in school age children’s comprehension of familiar complex sentence structures.