Listening comprehension in preschoolers: The role of memory


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Elena Florit, Department of Developmental and Socialization Psychology, University of Padua, 35135 Padua, Italy (e-mail:


The current study analyzed the relationship between text comprehension and memory skills in preschoolers. We were interested in verifying the hypothesis that memory is a specific contributor to listening comprehension in preschool children after controlling for verbal abilities. We were also interested in analyzing the developmental path of the relationship between memory skills and listening comprehension in the age range considered. Forty-four, 4-year-olds (mean age = 4 years and 6 months, SD =4 months) and 40, 5-year-olds (mean age = 5 years and 4 months, SD =5 months) participated in the study. The children were administered measures to evaluate listening comprehension ability (story comprehension), short-term and working memory skills (forward and backward word span), verbal intelligence and receptive vocabulary. Results showed that both short-term and working memory predicted unique and independent variance in listening comprehension after controlling for verbal abilities, with working memory explaining additional variance over and above short-term memory. The predictive power of memory skills was stable in the age range considered. Results also confirm a strong relation between verbal abilities and listening comprehension in 4- and 5-year-old children.