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Working memory performance of children born preterm: The effects of prematurity and training Open Access


Other title
visuospatial working memory
working memory
Cogmed training
verbal working memory
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Lee, Shuk Ching Clara
Supervisor and department
Pei, Jacqueline (Educational Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Alloway, Tracy (Psychology, University of North Florida)
Andrew, Gail (Glenrose Rehailitation Hospital)
Rasmussen, Carmen (Pediatrics/Glenrose Rehailitation Hospital)
Cui, Ying (Educational Psychology)
Cormier, Damien (Educational Psychology)
Buck, George (Educational Psychology)
Department of Educational Psychology
Psychological Studies in Education
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Research clearly shows that preterm children have working memory (WM) impairments. However, the WM profile of preterm children is still unclear as the methodologies used in different studies are highly varied. It is unable to gain insight into the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different aspects of WM if only one area is examined. Working memory training has been proven effective in various populations. However, a recent review paper pointed out that the majority of the WM training studies involve a no-contact control group making it impossible to determine whether any training benefit is due to actual improvement or an expectancy effect. Moreover, the transfer effect of strategy training is not known as very few studies have examined the transfer benefits of strategy training. Alternatively, core WM training involves a compilation of tasks to tap multiple components of the WM. Evidence shows that core WM training not only has transfer benefits, but also has sustained gains. In Study One of the present study, school-aged preterm children were found to perform significantly worse than age-matched term-born children in Visuospatial WM but not in Verbal WM. Although, preschool preterm children had poorer WM performance than their age-matched term-born peers, the group difference only reached the marginally significance level (i.e., p =.09). However, significant correlation between verbal and visuospatial STM was found in the preschool preterm subgroup, suggesting that the verbal and visuospatial storages of WM in young preterm children were associable. Preschool-aged children of both preterm and control groups completed a 5-week online WM training at home and continued to participate in Study Two. Findings showed that training benefits in both Verbal and Visuospatial WM were found in the control group, while training-related gains were found only in Visuospatial WM in the preterm group. Moreover, longer period of time was required for the positive training effects emerged in the preterm group than in the control group. No significant transfer effects on visual attention and EF were found in either group. Taken together, findings suggested that preschool-aged preterm children might have the central executive component of the WM developed differently from their age-matched term-born peers.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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