Get access

Verbal and Visuospatial Short-Term and Working Memory in Children: Are They Separable?


  • This research was supported by a research grant awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council of Great Britain to Tracy Packiam Alloway, Susan Elizabeth Gathercole, and Susan J. Pickering. The authors thank the schools, parents, and children who consented to participate in this study. The authors also thank Chris Jarrold and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Tracy Packiam Alloway, School of Education, University of Durham, Leazes Road, Durham DH1 1TA, U.K. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study explored the structure of verbal and visuospatial short-term and working memory in children between ages 4 and 11 years. Multiple tasks measuring 4 different memory components were used to capture the cognitive processes underlying working memory. Confirmatory factor analyses indicated that the processing component of working memory tasks was supported by a common resource pool, while storage aspects depend on domain-specific verbal and visuospatial resources. This model is largely stable across this developmental period, although some evidence exists that the links between the domain-specific visuospatial construct and the domain-general processing construct were higher in the 4- to- 6-year age group. The data also suggest that all working memory components are in place by 4 years of age.