Attentional and executive function behaviours in children with poor working memory

Susan Gathercole, Tracy Alloway, Hannah Kirkwood, Julian Elliott, Joni Holmes, Kerry Hilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was to explore the profiles of classroom behaviour relating to attention and executive functions in children with very poor working memory, and to test the hypothesis that inattentive behaviour and working memory problems co-occur. Teachers rated problem behaviours of 52 children with low working memory scores aged 5/6 and 9/10 years on teacher rating measures of attention and executive function behaviours. The majority of children with low working memory scores obtained atypically high ratings of cognitive problems/ inattentive symptoms, and were judged to have short attention spans, high levels of distractibility, problems in monitoring the quality of their work, and difficulties in generating new solutions to problems. These results extend previous findings that working memory problems and inattentive behaviour co-occur to a non-clinical sample. It is suggested that reduced working memory capacity may play a causal role in the problem behaviours of these children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-223
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2008


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