The relationship between spatial working memory precision and attention and inhibitory control in young children

Heidi L. Beattie, Anne R. Schutte, Cathryn S. Cortesa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Spatial working memory (SWM) and executive functions, including attention, inhibition and working memory, are important for children's well-being, educational attainment, and social relationships (Bull & Scerif, 2001; Posner, 2012; Riggs, Jahromi, Razza, Dillworth-Bart, & Mueller, 2006). The purpose of the current study is to examine the relationship between attention and inhibition, and a SWM task in 4–8-year-old children. The SWM task measured children's ability to remember the location of a target on a blank screen both with and without a distractor present during the delay. We conducted a secondary data analysis of this task from two previous studies (Author Blinded for Review, 2014; Authors Blinded for Review, 2017). Multilevel models showed that for younger children, faster reaction time on an attention task was related to errors in the SWM task that were more similar to older children. In addition, children whose parents indicated they had higher inhibitory control inhibited distractors more than other children. Overall, the findings demonstrate that children with greater attention and inhibition abilities also had greater SWM abilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-45
Number of pages14
JournalCognitive Development
StatePublished - Jul 2018



  • Attention
  • Early childhood
  • Executive functioning
  • Inhibitory control
  • Spatial working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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