What Does Research Say about Working Memory and Comprehension?
Research has connected certain cognitive skills to early reading skills. Working memory (WM) has a vital role to play in the academic performance of children, due to multiple academic tasks involving multiple sequences of tasks that should be remembered in a short period of time (Bergman Nutley & Söderqvist, 2017).For example, a deficit in working memory (WM) may contribute to difficulties in comprehending text and following multi-step instructions (Viterbori et al., 2015). Reading comprehension requires the ability to build integrated mental pictures, it relies heavily on both the processing and storage functions of working memory (Gathercole & Baddeley, 2014). This means that WM uses an integrated system that is enlisted during tasks such as learning, reading and language comprehension, and reasoning (Baddeley, 1992; Tsianos et al., 2010). According to Mather and Jaffe (2002), WM is the brain structure that delivers temporary storage and manipulation of information that is used for difficult cognitive tasks such as language comprehension, learning, and reasoning.
In the resource-sharing model, WM shows a strong relation with reading comprehension because reading comprehension also requires simultaneous information processing and storage. Comprehension is the process of making meaning and is a primary goal of reading instruction (Soto et al., 2019). It entails being able to connect what you read and hear with what you have experienced. Even pre-readers need to have the ability to comprehend things such as stories they are being read, oral instructions and information, and conversations. Preschool and kindergarten age children who attempt to comprehend what they are hearing, use the same cognitive process that older children and adults use to read. Comprehension allows children to process what they hear and read which is crucial to future reading success (Razinski et al., 2017). In an effort to understand what is being read, processing and storage have to switch back-and-forth such that information processing effectiveness influences the storage capacity of WM that is available for reading comprehension (Peng et al., 2018).
What you can do to help your struggling child
At LearningRx, we know that strong cognitive skills are foundational for reading success. That is why we recommend that when parents first contact us about their struggling reader, they take our free brain quiz and our cognitive skills assessment. This gives us a thorough idea of which cognitive skills are strong and which need strengthening and are contributing to the current reading challenges, a launching point from which we can propose a customized brain training program that targets their child’s specific needs.
We have more than three decades of experience helping children and adults who struggle with reading and/or dyslexia and we have watched our students achieve huge gains!
Our clients consistently improve their auditory processing, long-term memory, and broad attention skills, all of which make reading easier. In fact, in a study we performed with 2,112 of our clients who were struggling with reading and dyslexia, auditory processing skills improved an average of 5.3 years and overall cognitive skills performance improved over 3.6 years—a testament to the brain’s ability to learn and grow.