Longitudinal effects of working memory on internalizing and externalizing behavior problems
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Several research studies have examined the link between working memory ability and behavior problems in youth. Research suggests that children with working memory deficits demonstrate lower levels of attention and higher levels of hyperactivity, physical aggression, and other behavior problems. The purpose of this research was to determine the effects of developmental trajectories of working memory on the developmental trajectories of behavior problems. Results suggested that developmental increases in working memory did not lead to developmental decreases in behavior problems. Results from this study suggested that internalizing and externalizing behavior problems increase over the course of childhood. Several variables did lead to developmental change in behavior problems in children. Children who had lower initial levels of working memory increased in internalizing behaviors less than children with higher initial working memory ability. Also, high socioeconomic status led to smaller increases in internalizing and externalizing behavior, high Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) scores led to larger increases in internalizing and externalizing behavior, and high PPVT scores led to larger decreases in inattentive and hyperactive behavior. Results are discussed in reference to current theories about working memory and behavior problems.