Poor working memory

Joni Holmes, Susan Gathercole, Darren Dunning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Poor working memory affects approximately 15% of children. It is characterized by inattentive, distractible behavior that is accompanied by failures to complete everyday activities that require focused or sustained attention. Typically, children with poor working memory have normal social integration, normal levels of emotional control, and self-esteem. They may appear reserved in large group situations. Over 80% of children with low working memory struggle in reading and mathematics, and it has been suggested that they are likely to be those children who make poor academic progress, but who fall below the radar of recognition for special educational needs. Beyond poor learning, children with poor working memory have a range of other cognitive problems that extend to low IQ and deficits in other executive functions, including monitoring and planning, problem solving, and sustained attention. Although the direction of causality is uncertain, it is possible that limited working memory resources underpin this wide range of deficits. There are three main approaches to alleviating the difficulties faced by children with poor working memory—a classroom intervention, strategy training, or direct working memory training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-43
JournalAdvances in Child Development and Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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