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Title: Assessing and supporting working memory in children : the role of attention and the environment
Author: Berry, Edward David John
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 3368
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2017
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Working memory (WM) – the ability to store information over short periods of time in support of complex cognition – is implicated in a range of cognitive processes and developmental milestones. Given the importance of WM, it is vital that tools exist to rapidly but effectively assess this set of abilities. In Chapter 2 the development of computerised set of measures is described that we designed to facilitate rapid group testing in a school setting. These aims were defined by links with the Born in Bradford longitudinal cohort study. The rest of the thesis investigates how WM might be supported in children, a critical line of research considering the developmental implications of WM difficulties. In Chapter 3 the first investigation of the ability of children to prioritise serial positions within a visual sequence is presented. Children were instructed to try especially hard to remember either the first or third item in three-item sequences of shapes. Adults are consistently able to do this, resulting in superior performance for the prioritised item, at a cost to other items. Unlike adults, children did not show an ability to prioritise a particular position, when instructed to do so. Chapter 3 also includes a novel individual difference analysis that further clarifies the automaticity of recency effects in visual WM. Following the absence of prioritisation effects in Chapter 3, an alternative approach informed by embodied theories of cognition was taken in Chapter 4. Participants were presented with a WM task where the task environment was either structured pseudorandomly or in a task-relevant manner. This task-relevant organisation was consistently beneficial for children with low WM, such that they performed better than when the environment was structured. Children’s metacognitive understanding of the experimental manipulation was also investigated, highlighting the important of metacognitive factors to supporting WM in children.
Supervisor: Waterman, Amanda H. ; Allen, Richard J. ; Mon-Williams, Mark ; Wright, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available