Kyttälä, M., Aunio, P. & Hautamäki, J. (2010). Working memory resources in young children with mathematical difficulties. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 51, 1–15.
Working memory (WM) (Baddeley, 1986, 1997) is argued to be one of the most important cognitive resources underlying mathematical competence (Geary, 2004). Research has established close links between WM deficits and mathematical difficulties. This study investigated the possible deficits in WM, language and fluid intelligence that seem to characterize 4- to 6-year-old children with poor early mathematical skills before formal mathematics education. Children with early mathematical difficulties showed poor performance in both verbal and visuospatial WM tasks as well as on language tests and a fluid intelligence test indicating a thoroughly lower cognitive base. Poor WM performance was not moderated by fluid intelligence, but the extent of WM deficits was related to language skills. The educational implications are discussed.