The relationship between working memory, IQ, and mathematical skills in children


Tracy Packiam Alloway, Maria Chiara Passolunghi


The aim of the present study was to investigate the contribution of working memory and verbal ability (measured by vocabulary) to mathematical skills in children. A sample of 206 seven- and eight-year-olds was administered tests of these cognitive skills. A different pattern emerged that was dependent on both the memory task and the math skill. In the seven-year olds, visuo-spatial and verbal memory uniquely predicted performance on the math tests; however, in the eight-year olds, only visuo-spatial short-term memory predicted math scores. Even when differences in vocabulary were statistically accounted, memory skills uniquely predicted mathematical skills and arithmetical abilities. This pattern of findings provides a useful starting point that can add to existing research on the contributions of working memory and vocabulary to different mathematical skills.