Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Working memory differs by parents' education; effects persist into adolescence

Date:
April 30, 2014
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
A new longitudinal study has found that differences in working memory -- the ability to hold information in your mind, think about it, and use it to guide behavior -- that exist at age 10 persist through the end of adolescence. The study also found that parents' education -- one common measure of socioeconomic status -- is related to children's performance on tasks of working memory. The researchers studied more than 300 10- through 13-year-olds over four years.

Working memory -- the ability to hold information in your mind, think about it, and use it to guide behavior -- develops through childhood and adolescence, and is key for successful performance at school and work. Previous research with young children has documented socioeconomic disparities in performance on tasks of working memory. Now a new longitudinal study has found that differences in working memory that exist at age 10 persist through the end of adolescence. The study also found that parents' education -- one common measure of socioeconomic status -- is related to children's performance on tasks of working memory, and that neighborhood characteristics -- another common measure of socioeconomic status -- are not.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, West Chester University, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, appears in the journal Child Development.

"Understanding the development of disparities in working memory has implications for education," according to Daniel A. Hackman, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Pittsburgh who led the study when he was a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania. "Persistent disparities are a potential source of differences in academic achievement as students age and as the demands of both school work and the social environment increase.

"Our findings highlight the potential value of programs that promote developing working memory early as a way to prevent disparities in achievement," Hackman continues. "The fact that parents' education predicts working memory suggests that parenting practices and home environments may be important for this aspect of cognitive development and as a fruitful area for intervention and prevention."

To look at the rate of change in working memory in relation to different measures of socioeconomic status, the researchers studied more than three hundred 10- through 13-year-olds from urban public and parochial schools over four years. The sample of children was racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse. Each child completed a number of tasks of working memory across the four-year period. The researchers gathered information on how many years of education the parents of each child had completed, as well as on neighborhood characteristics, looking -- for example -- at the degree to which people in a child's neighborhood lived below the poverty line, were unemployed, or received public assistance.

Neither parents' education nor living in a disadvantaged neighborhood was found to be associated with the rate of growth in working memory across the four-year period. Lower parental education was found to be tied to differences in working memory that emerged by age 10 and continued through adolescence. However, neighborhood characteristics were not related to working memory performance.

The study suggests that disparities seen in adolescence and adulthood start earlier in childhood and that school doesn't close the gap in working memory for children ages 10 and above. Generally, children whose parents had fewer years of education don't catch up or fall further behind by the end of adolescence, when working memory performance reaches mature levels.

That said, the findings of this study do not suggest that working memory is not malleable. Interventions that strengthen working memory in children, such as training games, may help children with lower levels of working memory improve and reduce disparities.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel A. Hackman, Laura M. Betancourt, Robert Gallop, Daniel Romer, Nancy L. Brodsky, Hallam Hurt, Martha J. Farah. Mapping the Trajectory of Socioeconomic Disparity in Working Memory: Parental and Neighborhood Factors. Child Development, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12242

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "Working memory differs by parents' education; effects persist into adolescence." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430083137.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2014, April 30). Working memory differs by parents' education; effects persist into adolescence. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430083137.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "Working memory differs by parents' education; effects persist into adolescence." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430083137.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins