Phonological storage and executive function deficits in children with mathematics difficulties

Peng Peng, Sun Congying, Li Beilei, Tao Sha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Children with mathematics difficulties suffer from working memory deficits. This study investigated the deficit profile of phonological storage and executive functions in working memory among children with mathematics difficulties. Based on multiple instruments and two assessment points, 68 children were screened out of 805 fifth graders. Of these 68 children, 18 were classified as children with only mathematics difficulties (MD), 20 were classified as children with mathematics and reading difficulties (MDRD), and 30 were typically developing (TD) peers matched on age and general ability. Measures for phonological storage, dual-task performance, inhibition, and updating of verbal and numerical materials were administered individually. Results showed that compared with the TD group, children with MD exhibited storage and inhibition deficits specific to numerical information and dual-task deficits of both verbal and numerical information, whereas children with MDRD showed extensive deficits on phonological storage and executive functions on both verbal and numerical tasks. Moreover, executive function deficits were not confined to phonological storage deficits. Implications of the findings for the working memory deficit profile and working memory training among children with mathematics difficulties were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-466
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Executive functions
  • Mathematics difficulties
  • Numerical
  • Phonological storage
  • Verbal
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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