Processing speed and working memory underlie academic attainment in very preterm children

Posted: August 11th, 2010 – A study published recently in the Journal Fetal & Neonatal examined whether very preterm children perform worse academically than term children and what cognitive deficits are associated with the poor performance.

The researchers from the University of Nottingham found after examining 48 preterm children and 17 term control children that there was a significant difference in overall academic performance. Children born very preterm scored lower in measures of “math, English/literacy, overall academic attainment, and special education needs provision”.

The researchers identified deficits in both processing speed and working memory in very preterm children and concluded that these specific functions contributed significantly to their poor academic performance.

This study again demonstrates the link between working memory and academic achievement and also highlights the case for Cogmed training with this population. There is an ongoing study investigating the efficacy of Cogmed training on preterm adolescents.

View the abstract of the Fetal & Neonatal study