Published in Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 5 No. 960 (September 2014) at doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00960


We compared three phonological processing components (phonological awareness, rapid automatized naming and phonological memory), verbal working memory, and attention control in terms of how well they predict the various aspects of reading: word recognition, pseudoword decoding, fluency and comprehension, in a mixed sample of 182 children ages 8–12 years. Participants displayed a wide range of reading ability and attention control. Multiple regression was used to determine how well the phonological processing components, verbal working memory, and attention control predict reading performance. All equations were highly significant. Phonological memory predicted word identification and decoding. In addition, phonological awareness and rapid automatized naming predicted every aspect of reading assessed, supporting the notion that phonological processing is a core contributor to reading ability. Nonetheless, phonological processing was not the only predictor of reading performance. Verbal working memory predicted fluency, decoding and comprehension, and attention control predicted fluency. Based upon our results, when using Baddeley’s model of working memory it appears that the phonological loop contributes to basic reading ability, whereas the central executive contributes to fluency and comprehension, along with decoding. Attention control was of interest as some children with ADHD have poor reading ability even if it is not sufficiently impaired to warrant diagnosis. Our finding that attention control predicts reading fluency is consistent with prior research which showed sustained attention plays a role in fluency. Taken together, our results suggest that reading is a highly complex skill that entails more than phonological processing to perform well.