Working Memory abilities, attachment relationships and learning process in children of primary school age: an empirical research


  • Nadia Del Villano |
  • Claudia Cecere
  • Walter Sapuppo
  • Alessia Sannino
  • Raffaella Perrella SUN, .
  • Sara Bisogno SUN, .
  • Giorgio Caviglia


Several studies underline a definite link between “working memory†(WM) and the learning process (deficit and learning disorder in children). WM abi-lities mainly affect written language learning and arithmetic learning. According to studies related to the Attachment Theory, it is possible to rationalize that child with a secure attachment to the caregiver and/or to the teacher have higher skills in school adaptability. In this study—based on previous pilot study (Del Villano, Ce-cere, Sapuppo, & Caviglia., 2011)—the relationship between: cognitive test (WM measurement test), learning test and the student’s attachment style (both with his caregivers and his teacher) have been empirically evaluated. This pilot study was performed in several of the primary schools in Campania Italy between 2009 and 2011. The selected sample was composed of 80 children 6-7 years old (38 Female and 42 Male) who, after parental and school consent, were tested by the tools de-scribed in the main body of this research paper. The pilot study shows an absence of linguistic deficit, and a relationship between cognitive abilities and the learning le-vel achieved in reading and mathematical calculation, furthermore it has shown a modulation effect of the attachment on the relationship between the WM ability and MT calculation and reading tests. This modulation effect is more evident if we consider the unsecure or disorganized attachment, especially if we consider the data accumulated with reference to the attachment to the teacher. Our research was conducted with the sole intention to widen the sample and make the outcomes more valid and reliable. The recruited sample was composed of 130 children age 6-7 who, after parenentalt and school consent, were tested with the TVL -Linguistic As-sessment Test , the short version of AWMA (Automated Working Memory As-sessment), the SAT-Separation Anxiety Test, both family and school versions, and the Reading Trials MT -AC-MT 6-11- Calculation Ability Assessment Test. The re-sults underline the absence of deficit or malfunctions in the subjects’ linguistic de-velopment, a significant connection between the learning performances and the verbal and visual-spatial trials assessed with the AWMA, and a moderating effect of the attachment style upon the connection itself.



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working memory, learning, attachment
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How to Cite
Del Villano, N., Cecere, C., Sapuppo, W., Sannino, A., Perrella, R., Bisogno, S., & Caviglia, G. (2014). Working Memory abilities, attachment relationships and learning process in children of primary school age: an empirical research. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 17(1), 21–32.

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