Abstract

This study examined working memory contributions to reading comprehension subskills in Greek children (mean age 9 years, 1 month). The phonological loop of the Baddeley and Hitch working memory model was assessed with 3 recall tasks (words, nonwords, and digits) and a word list matching task. The central executive (CE) was assessed with 3 tasks (listening, counting, and backward digit recall). Participants were also given a receptive vocabulary task, a reading fluency task, and written stories accompanied by comprehension questions. Canonical correlation analyses showed that the comprehension variables were related to the CE rather than the phonological loop measures. CE functions were more strongly associated with elaborative inference generation (involving significant offline processing) and comprehension control (involving metacognitive monitoring). Smaller yet significant associations were observed between the CE and the necessary inference and literal comprehension measures, whereas a moderate relationship was found in the case of the simile comprehension variable. Among the CE variables, listening recall demonstrated the highest loading on the canonical function, followed by moderate yet significant counting and backward digit recall loadings. Vocabulary was found to fully mediate several associations between working memory and comprehension measures; however, the relationship between listening recall and elaborative inferences was partly mediated. Reading fluency and, on several occasions, Greek vocabulary knowledge did not mediate the relationships between CE measures and comprehension skills assessed. This study demonstrates the usefulness of CE measures for identifying young children’s possible difficulties in carrying out specific reading comprehension processes.

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