The Unique Role of Spatial Working Memory for Mathematics Performance

Sarit Silverman*, Sarit Ashkenazi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We explored the multi-dimensionality of mathematics and working memory (WM) by examining the differential relationships between different areas of mathematics with visual, spatial, and verbal WM. Previous research proposed that visuospatial WM is a unique predictor of mathematics, but neuroimaging and cognitive research suggest divisions within visuospatial WM. We created a new WM task to isolate visuospatial WM’s visual and spatial components and maintained consistent design across tasks and found that spatial WM predicted mathematics and visual WM did not. We also found that verbal WM predicted all mathematics areas included, while spatial WM was a unique predictor of numerical understanding and geometry, not arithmetic and estimation. These findings integrate previous neuroimaging, cognitive and educational psychology research and further our understanding of the relationship between WM and mathematics.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)226-243
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Numerical Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

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  • mathematics
  • multi-dimensionality of mathematics
  • spatial skills
  • spatial working memory
  • visual working memory


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