The Role of Individual Differences in Working Memory Capacity on Reading Comprehension Ability

Authored by: Chantel S. Prat , Roy Seo , Brianna L. Yamasaki

Handbook of Individual Differences in Reading

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  August  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415658874
eBook ISBN: 9780203075562
Adobe ISBN: 9781135120931


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Skilled reading comprehension is incredibly cognitively demanding, requiring the coordination of multiple sub-component processes executed largely in parallel. The outputs of these processes are dynamically employed to update mental representations of the scenarios described in a text as they unfold in time. Thus, it is not surprising that individual differences in reading comprehension ability have been repeatedly linked to working memory capacity, which enables the “mental juggling” necessary for dynamically maintaining and manipulating information in a cognitive workspace (Daneman & Carpenter, 1980; Just & Carpenter, 1992; Long & Prat, 2008). In this chapter, we will repeatedly refer to juggling as an analogy for working memory, as it allows us to examine multiple models of how mental representations are maintained and manipulated in the mind of a reader.

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