Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chair, Department of Psychology

First Advisor

George McCloskey, PhD, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Diane Smallwood, PhD

Third Advisor

Lori Lennon, PsyD


Newer insights into working memory may have important implications for understanding varying cognitive abilities in adolescents and their corresponding degrees of success and efforts to accomplish real-world goals. It is important to investigate the construct of working memory in relation to academic, behavioral, and emotional success at school for students classified with an Emotionally Disturbance (ED). In the educational system, students are classified as ED, based upon IDEA regulations present within a multiplicity of these cognitive, behavioral, socio-emotional, and academic difficulties. The associated cognitive deficits often involve poor working memory skills thought to be related to frontal lobe processes. Considering the seat of psychopathology to be within the frontal-subcortical circuitry, one can assume that cognitive processes such as working memory may be relationally involved with certain behavioral phenotypes. This is especially true when accounting for executive deficits often observed in students with ED. This study purports that a relationship may exist between working memory processing, executive dysfunction, and behavioral difficulties in students with ED. Utilizing the WISC-IV Working Memory Index (WMI) as a measure of working memory processing, the BASC-2 to determine behavioral typology, and the BRIEF to determine deficits of executive functioning, this study revealed no relationships between varying levels of working memory processing, executive deficits, or distinct behavioral phenotypes in this sample of students with ED. Although these results are in direct opposition to studies demonstrating relationships amongst these variables, the results must be viewed in lieu of several limitations in the study. Future research could benefit from investigation of cognitive, behavioral, and executive function variables in students with ED as they are often considered a homogeneous group.