This study investigated associations between working memory (measured by complex memory tasks) and both reading and mathematics abilities, as well as the possible mediating factors of fluid intelligence, verbal abilities, short-term memory (STM), and phonological awareness, in a sample of 46 6- to 11-year-olds with reading disabilities. As a whole, the sample was characterized by deficits in complex memory and visuospatial STM and by low IQ scores; language, phonological STM, and phonological awareness abilities fell in the low average range. Severity of reading difficulties within the sample was significantly associated with complex memory, language, and phonological awareness abilities, whereas poor mathematics abilities were linked with complex memory, phonological STM, and phonological awareness scores. These findings suggest that working memory skills indexed by complex memory tasks represent an important constraint on the acquisition of skill and knowledge in reading and mathematics. Possible mechanisms for the contribution of working memory to learning, and the implications for educational practice, are considered.
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