Is it a Small World After All? Investigating the Theoretical Structure of Working Memory Cross-Nationally

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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  • 1 University of North FloridaUSA
  • | 2 University of Western OntarioCanada
  • | 3 Universidad de Buenos AiresArgentina
  • | 4 Università degli Studi di TriesteItaly
  • | 5 University of MinhoBragaPortugal
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To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies to test different theoretical models of working memory in childhood based on a computerized assessment. We tested this across several countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Italy, and uk. The present study addressed the wider macro-cultural context and how this impacts working memory. We used two economic indices (gdp and ppp) to characterize the participating countries and ranked the countries based on the Global Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment. Children between 5 and 10 years completed the same set of short-term and working memory tests. There were two main findings. First, there was a similar pattern in verbal working memory across countries, which suggests that this skill may be relatively consistent across different cultural groups. In contrast, the pattern for visuo-spatial working memory was different across countries, which may explained by cultural differences and educational rankings of the countries. The second main finding was that both a domain-general model (3-factor) and a domain-specific model (4-factor) provided a reasonably good fit with the data, there was the high relationship between the verbal and visuo-spatial working memory constructs across the countries in the latter model. Thus, it may be a more parsimonious choice to rely on a three-factor model. The data also suggest culture-similar patterns in a computerized assessment of working memory.

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