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Working memory span in mild cognitive impairment. Influence of processing speed and cognitive reserve

  • David Facal (a1), Onésimo Juncos-Rabadán (a1), Arturo X. Pereiro (a1) and Cristina Lojo-Seoane (a1)



Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) often includes episodic memory impairment, but can also involve other types of cognitive decline. Although previous studies have shown poorer performance of MCI patients in working memory (WM) span tasks, different MCI subgroups were not studied.


In the present exploratory study, 145 participants underwent extensive cognitive evaluation, which included three different WM span tasks, and were classified into the following groups: multiple-domain amnestic MCI (mda-MCI), single-domain amnestic MCI (sda-MCI), and controls. General linear model was conducted by considering the WM span tasks as the within-subject factor; the group (mda-MCI, sda-MCI, and controls) as the inter-subject factor; and processing speed, vocabulary and age as covariates. Multiple linear regression models were also used to test the influence of processing speed, vocabulary, and other cognitive reserve (CR) proxies.


Results indicate different levels of impairment of WM, with more severe impairment in mda-MCI patients. The differences were still present when processing resources and CR were controlled.


Between-group differences can be understood as a manifestation of the greater severity and widespread memory impairment in mda-MCI patients and may contribute to a better understanding of continuum from normal controls to mda-MCI patients. Processing speed and CR have a limited influence on WM scores, reducing but not removing differences between groups.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Dr. David Facal, Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology, University of Santiago de Compostela, Campus Sur, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Phone: +34-881813695; Fax: +34-981528071. Email:


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Working memory span in mild cognitive impairment. Influence of processing speed and cognitive reserve

  • David Facal (a1), Onésimo Juncos-Rabadán (a1), Arturo X. Pereiro (a1) and Cristina Lojo-Seoane (a1)


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