The Cognitive and Behavioral Characteristics of Children With Low Working Memory


  • This research was supported by a project grant awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council of Great Britain to the authors.

concerning this article should be addressed to Tracy Packiam Alloway, Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study explored the cognitive and behavioral profiles of children with working memory impairments. In an initial screening of 3,189 five- to eleven-year-olds, 308 were identified as having very low working memory scores. Cognitive skills (IQ, vocabulary, reading, and math), classroom behavior, and self-esteem were assessed. The majority of the children struggled in the learning measures and verbal ability. They also obtained atypically high ratings of cognitive problems/inattentive symptoms and were judged to have short attention spans, high levels of distractibility, problems in monitoring the quality of their work, and difficulties in generating new solutions to problems. These data provide rich new information on the cognitive and behavioral profiles that characterize children with low working memory.