The trajectory of mathematics skills and working memory thresholds in girls with fragile X syndrome

Melissa M. Murphy, Michèle M.M. Mazzocco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Fragile X syndrome is a common genetic disorder associated with executive function deficits and poor mathematics achievement. In the present study, we examined changes in math performance during the elementary and middle school years in girls with fragile X syndrome, changes in the working memory loads under which children could complete a cognitive switching task, and the association between these two areas of function, in girls with fragile X syndrome relative to their peers. Our findings indicate that the trajectory of math and executive function skills of girls with fragile X differs from that of their peers and that these skills contribute to predicting math achievement and growth in math performance over time. Also, changes in math performance were associated with incremental increases in working memory demands, suggesting that girls with fragile X have a lower threshold for being able to perform under increasing task demands. Still, we found improvement in executive function performance between 10 and 12 years in girls with fragile X rather than a performance plateau as has been reported in other studies. The findings implicate the importance of early intervention in mathematics for girls with fragile X that addresses poor calculation skills, the supporting numerical skills, and deficits in executive functions, including working memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-449
Number of pages20
JournalCognitive Development
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 14 2009

Keywords

  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Mathematical learning disability
  • Mathematics skills
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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