Cognitive Prediction of Reading, Math, and Attention: Shared and Unique Influences

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


Working, Memory, Cognitive processing


The current study tested a multiple-cognitive predictor model of word reading, math ability, and attention in a community-based sample of twins ages 8 to 16 years (N = 636). The objective was to identify cognitive predictors unique to each skill domain as well as cognitive predictors shared among skills that could help explain their overlap and thus help illuminate the basis for comorbidity of related disorders (reading disability, math disability, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Results indicated that processing speed contributes to the overlap between reading and attention as well as math and attention, whereas verbal comprehension contributes to the overlap between reading and math. There was no evidence that executive functioning skills help account for covariation among these skill domains. Instead, specific executive functions differentially related to certain outcomes (i.e., working memory to math and inhibition to attention). We explored whether the model varied in younger versus older children and found only minor differences. Results are interpreted within the context of the multiple deficit framework for neurodevelopmental disorders.

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