The Contribution of Attentional Control and Working Memory to Reading Comprehension and Decoding



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Working memory plays an important role in the development of a coherent representation of information being read in text, which is necessary for adequate reading comprehension. Individual differences in working memory are significantly impacted by the attentional control functions of the central executive, the controlling mechanism of working memory. Attentional control is comprised of a group of functions; response inhibition, sustained attention, and cognitive inhibition. In the current study, I addressed the relation of reading comprehension, decoding skills, working memory, and attentional control in 1134 adolescent students from grades 6 - 12. The results revealed that sustained attention and cognitive inhibition, but not response inhibition, were significantly related to working memory. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated a differential relation between attentional control and reading comprehension versus decoding. Sustained attention and cognitive inhibition significantly contributed to reading comprehension while response inhibition was a significant predictor of decoding ability. These results indicate that working memory operates differently in relation to decoding and comprehension due to differential associations of attentional control and working memory.



Working memory, Attentional control, Response inhibition, Cognitive inhibition, Sustained attention, Reading comprehension, Decoding