FRANKFURT (dpa) – Reading and spelling disabilities have long been seen as related, but a new German study has found that children with a reading disability have working memory deficits that differ from those of their peers with a spelling disability, meaning that the disabilities are distinct.
The study was conducted by the Frankfurt-based interdisciplinary research centre IDeA (Individual Development and Adaptive Education of Children at Risk), which was founded by the German Institute for International Educational Research, the Goethe University Frankfurt and the Sigmund Freud Institute.
The brain’s working memory is responsible for the short-term storage and processing of information.
According to the authors of the study, children with a reading disability have deficits in the part of the working memory that simultaneously coordinates various activities and retrieves information from the long-term memory.
Children with a spelling disability, on the other hand, often have a problem in what is called the phonological loop, the part of the working memory responsible for verbal information.
A total of 465 children, 365 with various learning disabilities and 100 serving as the control group, were tested over several years in the study.