Mapping the Developmental Constraints on Working Memory Span Performance

Donna Bayliss, C. Jarrold, A.D. Baddeley, D.M. Gunn, E. Leigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the constraints underlying developmental improvements in complex working memory span performance among 120 children of between 6 and 10 years of age. Independent measures of processing efficiency, storage capacity, rehearsal speed, and basic speed of processing were assessed to determine their contribution to age-related variance in complex span. Results showed that developmental improvements in complex span were driven by 2 age-related but separable factors: I associated with general speed of processing and I associated with storage ability. In addition, there was an age-related contribution shared between working memory, processing speed, and storage ability that was important for higher level cognition. These results pose a challenge for models of complex span performance that emphasize the importance of processing speed alone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-597
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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