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Chiappe, P., Hasher, L., & Siegel, L.S. (2000) Working memory, inhibitory control and reading disability. Memory and Cognition, 28, 8-17.


The relationships among working memory, inhibitory control and reading skills were studied in 966 individuals, aged 6-49. In addition to a standardized measure of word recognition, they received a working memory (listening span) task in the standard, blocked format (three sets containing 2-, 3- or 4-item trials) or in a mixed format (three sets each containing 2-, 3- and 4-item trials) to determine whether scores derived from the standard format are influenced by proactive interference. Intrusion errors were investigated in order to determine whether deficits in working memory were associated with the access, deletion, or restraint functions of inhibitory control. The results indicated that deficits in working memory were characteristic of individuals with reading disabilities at all ages. These deficits may be associated with the access and restraint functions of inhibition. Working memory skills increased until the age of 19. The blocked format showed a gradual decline in adulthood whereas the mixed format did not. The different patterns suggest that the decline in working memory skills associated with aging may result from growing inefficiencies in inhibitory control, and not diminished capacity.

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