Executive Function in Preschool Children: Working Memory as a Predictor of Mathematical Ability at School Age | Diana ANGHEL
Abstract: This paper attempts to provide a synthesis and appraisal of the field of executive functions (EF). In a moment in which early education is a very important issue in Romania, the purpose of this study is to emphasize the importance of early development of EF and EF correlation with school readiness (Ionescu and Benga, 2007). Core EF skills are (i) inhibitory control, (ii) working memory (WM), and (iii) cognitive flexibility. According to empirical studies, the model of WM proposes a multicomponent architecture, including specialized subsystems, considered important in developing children’s language skills and mathematics. The WM model comprises four subcomponents. Two domain-specific limited capacity slave systems, the phonological loop (Baddeley, 1986), and the visuo-spatial sketchpad assume responsibility for storing and manipulating verbal or visuo-spatial information. These are coordinated by a domain-general limited capacity system, the central executive, which commands a number of functions including planning, inhibition, switching attention, and monitoring the processing of temporarily held information. The recently added fourth subcomponent, the episodic buffer (Baddeley, 2000), is considered to be responsible for the integration of information from the subcomponents of WM and long-term memory (LTM). Research has suggested that that independent contribution of the different working memory components and functions suggests that the relationship between individual differences in working memory and arithmetic is mediated by a number of resources, not only processing efficiency but also storage capacity and (central) executive ability. In conclusion, the present study shows strong evidence regarding implications of WM for mathematical development and mathematic curricula.
Keywords: executive function, preschool development, math abilities, assessment.
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