Many times we have dedicated ourselves to the relationship between working memory and mathematical skills, both with respect to predictivity, both with regard to improvements in mathematics following a training of this particular aspect of the executive functions.

When we talk about the link between executive functions and academic performance, however, we almost always refer to cold executive functions (for example, the more "cognitive" aspect).
Much less studied is the possible connection between executive functions hot and academic performance, especially mathematics. The ability to is certainly among the hot executive functions emotional self-regulation.
Precisely for this reason the research we want to talk about is particularly interesting.

This research, conducted by Kahl and colleagues, was published in 2021[1], which related cold executive functions and emotional self-regulation to mathematics achievement in school.


What did they find out?

The relevant data that emerged are essentially two, one obvious and the other more interesting:

  • Obvious fact
    Among the executive functions examined, working memory was the most important predictor of mathematical learning. In other words, those with a good working memory tended to perform well in mathematics; conversely, those with low working memory tended to perform poorly in mathematics.
  • Interesting fact
    Emotional self-regulation skills mediated the relationship between working memory and mathematical learning.
    In other words, those who had a good capacity for emotional self-regulation were able to have a good performance in mathematics even in the case of a low working memory.
    In other words, a good capacity for emotional self-regulation would be able to compensate for the difficulties related to working memory or, at least, the consequences in the mathematical field.

In summary, this research focuses on how closely the aspects of emotional regulation (connected to hot executive functions) are closely connected to cognitive aspects and how, similarly to the latter, they could affect school learning.
However, it remains to be seen how these skills might actually affect mathematics performance.

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