City Research Online

Children's verbal, visual and spatial processing and storage abilities: An analysis of verbal comprehension, reading, counting and mathematics

Gordon, R., Smith-Spark, J. H., Newton, E. J. & Henry, L. ORCID: 0000-0001-5422-4358 (2021). Children's verbal, visual and spatial processing and storage abilities: An analysis of verbal comprehension, reading, counting and mathematics. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, article number 732182. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.732182


The importance of working memory (WM) in reading and mathematics performance has been widely studied, with recent research examining the components of WM (i.e., storage and processing) and their roles in these educational outcomes. However, the differing relationships between these abilities and the foundational skills involved in the development of reading and mathematics have received less attention. Additionally, the separation of verbal, visual and spatial storage and processing and subsequent links with foundational skills and downstream reading and mathematics has not been widely examined. The current study investigated the separate contributions of processing and storage from verbal, visual and spatial tasks to reading and mathematics, whilst considering influences on the underlying skills of verbal comprehension and counting respectively. Ninety-two children aged 7- to 8-years were assessed. It was found that verbal comprehension (with some caveats) was predicted by verbal storage and reading was predicted by verbal and spatial storage. Counting was predicted by visual processing and storage, whilst mathematics was related to verbal and spatial storage. We argue that resources for tasks relying on external representations of stimuli related mainly to storage, and were largely verbal and spatial in nature. When a task required internal representation, there was an draw on visual processing and storage abilities. Findings suggest a possible meaningful separability of types of processing. Further investigation of this could lead to the development of an enhanced WM model, which might better inform interventions and reasonable adjustment for children who struggle with reading and mathematics due to WM deficits.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been accepted for publication in Frontiers in Psychology by Frontiers Media.
Publisher Keywords: Working memory, Reading, Mathematics, Verbal comprehension, Counting, storage, processing
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature
Q Science > QA Mathematics
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Children's verbal, visual and spatial processing and short-term storage abilities.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Download (902kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login