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Working Memory: Is it the New IQ?. Dr Tracy Packiam Alloway Director of the Centre for Memory & Learning in the Lifespan University of Stirling, UK www.tracyalloway.com. Overview. What is working memory? HOW is working memory different from IQ? Environmental factors Learning:

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Working Memory: Is it the New IQ?


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    1. Working Memory: Is it the New IQ? Dr Tracy Packiam Alloway Director of the Centre for Memory & Learning in the Lifespan University of Stirling, UK www.tracyalloway.com

    2. Overview What is working memory? HOW is working memory different from IQ? • Environmental factors • Learning: Typical development Developmental disorders Cognitive training

    3. Working Memory Key features: • Mental workspace to remember and work with information • Limited in capacity • Catastrophic loss

    4. Example • 23 X 3 • 23 x 37 • 23 x 7 = 161 • 23 x 30 =

    5. Measuring working memory • Behavior: Working Memory Rating Scale • http://www.pearson-uk.com/WMRS • Cognitive • Automated Working Memory Assessment • http://www.pearson-uk.com/AWMA

    6. Screening tools • Classroom behavior: Working Memory Rating Scale • Harcourt/Pearson Education • Standardized for 5 – 11 years • Developing WMRS for 12 -16 and for parents www.pearson-uk.com/WMRS

    7. Screening tools • Based on interviews with teachers • 20 items • Not typical at all; Occasionally; Fairly typical; Very typical • Abandons activities before completion • Incorrectly repeats the same response, for example by writing the same word twice in a sentence www.pearson-uk.com/WMRS

    8. Screening tools • Cognitive: Automated Working Memory Assessment • Harcourt/Pearson Education • First standardised tool for educators to screen for working memory impairments • Translated in over 15 languages www.pearson-uk.com/AWMA

    9. The AWMA • The AWMA is standardized for 4-22 years. • Screener: 5-7 minutes • 2 tests • Short version: 10-15 minutes • 4 tests • Long version: 40 minutes • 12 tests www.pearson-uk.com/AWMA

    10. Tests Verbal short-term Digit recall Word recall Nonword recall Verbal working memory Listening recall Counting recall Backward digit recall Visuo-spatial short-term Dot matrix Mazes memory Block recall Visuo-spatial working memory Odd one out Mister X Spatial recall www.pearson-uk.com/AWMA

    11. Verbal short-term memory: Digit recall 839251 839251 www.pearson-uk.com/AWMA

    12. Verbal working memory: Listening recall • “bananas have teeth” false • “chairs lay eggs “ false eggs, teeth www.pearson-uk.com/AWMA

    13. Visual-spatial short-term: Dot matrix www.pearson-uk.com/AWMA

    14. Visual-spatial working memory: Spatial recall Same/ different www.pearson-uk.com/AWMA

    15. www.pearson-uk.com/AWMA

    16. This graph indicates whether Jack is at risk for working memory problems. The grey shaded area represents average or typical performance for this age group. The blue area represents Jack's working memory profile. www.pearson-uk.com/AWMA

    17. Learning profile • Verbal short-term memory • Jack’s performance in the area of verbal short-term memory skills is below average compared to the peers in the same age-group. The scores indicate that Jack is likely to have specific impairments in language learning, and would acquire new vocabulary items at a much slower rate than the peers in the same age-group. www.pearson-uk.com/AWMA

    18. Development of WM • Working memory capacity increases steadily with age between 4 and 16 years • Increases as we get older: • Greatest growth in childhood • WM growth is like dog years: • 1 year of growth in childhood = 10 years of growth in adulthood

    19. Working Memory: Lifespan

    20. Development of WM • Working memory capacity increases steadily with age between 4 and 18 years • Large degree of individual variation in working memory capacity at each age

    21. Working memory varies at each age 4 3 2 1 10 4 5 6 7 8 9 Age in years Alloway & Gathercole (2006) Educational Research and Reviews

    22. 4 year old in a class of 7 year olds

    23. Working memory varies at each age 4 3 2 1 10 4 5 6 7 8 9 Age in years Alloway & Gathercole (2006) Educational Research and Reviews

    24. Working Memory & Environment • Pre-school experiences • Alloway et al (2005) British J. of Developmental Psychology • Mother’s education level • High school drop-out • University degree • UK, USA, & Europe • Alloway et al (2004) J. of Experimental Child Psychology www.tracyalloway.com

    25. Working Memory & Environment Economically deprived areas in Brazil www.tracyalloway.com

    26. Working Memory & Environment Wealthy areas in Brazil www.tracyalloway.com

    27. Working Memory & Environment • Pre-school experiences • Mother’s education level • Low-income vs. high-income families • IQ & working memory: Brazil • Cultural background • Luxembourg • The Netherlands www.tracyalloway.com

    28. Working Memory & Environment • Pure measure of learning ability • Measures potential to learning • Not what we have already learned www.tracyalloway.com

    29. WM & Learning • Is it more important than IQ in learning? • Typically developing children • Developmental disorders • Learning difficulties • Developmental Coordination Disorder • ADHD

    30. WM at school entry: 5 yrs • Assessed at school entry within the first 6 weeks • Verbal working memory ⇨ Reading, Writing & Math • IQ DID NOT predict learning Alloway et al (2005) British Journal of Developmental Psychology

    31. Learning 6 years later (11 yrs) IQ READING SPELLING MATH Working Memory 5 yrs Working Memory 11 yrs Alloway & Alloway (2008)

    32. Verbal WM Verbal STM VS WM WM & Learning difficulties Alloway et al (2005) Educational & Child Psychology

    33. Children with LD: 2 years later Learning T1 English Verbal working memory Learning T2 Maths IQ scores Alloway (2009), European Journal of Psychological Assessment

    34. WM & Learning difficulties • If a child has a working memory impairment, they will; • Have perform poorly in all areas of learning • Only 2% had SS >96 in reading & maths • Have low self-confidence • Lose motivation • Continue struggling throughout their academic career • Similar patterns in Dutch sample Alloway et al (2009) Child Development

    35. WM & DCD • Labels • Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) • Clumsy Child Syndrome • Gross motor skills (large movements): • Poor balance: Riding a bicycle • Poor hand-eye co-ordination: Catching a ball & batting • Fine motor skills (small movements): • Lack of manual dexterity: cutlery, craft work, musical instruments • Poor manipulative skills: Typing, handwriting and drawing • Prevalence • 6% of school children, More males than females affected Alloway (2006) Working Memory in Neurodevelopmental Disorders

    36. WM & DCD Alloway (2007) JECP

    37. WM & DCD • Struggle with visual-spatial memory tasks • Difficulties with movement planning: mentally rotating objects and tracking movement. • They also perform poorly as a result of the combined processing and storage demands of these tasks. • Distinct memory profile from those with learning difficulties Alloway & Temple (2007) Applied Cognitive Psychology

    38. WM & DCD: Learning • Motor skills or Working Memory = Learning difficulties? • Two groups: • High Visual-Spatial Memory • Low Visual-Spatial Memory • Motor skills: Both groups will have low learning scores • Working Memory: Low VS Memory group will have lower learning scores • Low Visual-Spatial Memory group performed worse in Reading & Math • Even after accounting for IQ Alloway (2007) JECP

    39. Intervention: Exercise Dyspraxia: Intervention Motor skills Learning Working memory Alloway & Warner (2008) Perceptual & Motor skills

    40. WM & ADHD • Characteristics: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity • Trouble focusing, easily distracted, trouble staying still, frequently unable to control impulsive behaviour • Must be more frequent than their peers and evident in 2 or more settings (school & home) • Prevalence 3-7% of school children • More males than females (between 5 – 11 years)

    41. WM & ADHD • Visuo-spatial working memory: Best single predictor of ADHD out of other EF measures • Linked to learning difficulties independent of IQ

    42. WM & ADHD

    43. Cognitive training • Plasticity • Evidence that working memory improves • Transfer to learning? • Training for the test • Just improving attention/focus • Specific versus general skills for learning www.tracyalloway.com

    44. http://www.junglememory.com

    45. Cognitive training Alloway (in press) PATOSS

    46. Working Memory: The New IQ? • #1 predictor of academic success • Measures fluid not crystallized cognitive skills • Children don’t fail because they can’t understand, or haven’t acquired crucial knowledge • Independent of SES factors www.tracyalloway.com

    47. Thank you! www.tracyalloway.comt.p.alloway@stir.ac.uk