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Working Memory

Decent Essays
Working Memory

● Working memory enables us to keep things in mind for short periods (215 seconds) as we think, e.g. while reading, making a list etc.

● It 's related to but different to short-term-memory (STM) and long-term-memory (LTM).

● Chapter focuses on Baddley 's (1986) model of phonological working memory, vocabulary acquisition and computational modelling of working-memory.

● The concept of 'span ' means how many items from a briefly presented set can be remembered, e.g. 'word span ' is the number of words that can be recalled if reading a list of say 20 words. Digit span, operation span, reading span etc. are similar tests.

Models of working memory evolved over time:

Atkinson & Shiffrin
(1971)

Baddeley & Hitch
(1974)
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■ However he tested normally for long-term learning and memory, and had no problems understanding normal speech, so spared LTM.
■ This suggests STM and LTM are distinct and normal STM is not required for LTM to function normally.
● Garden path sentences show we do retain words in memory as we process them (building up and interpreting sentences) but there are competing theories:
○ Just and Carpenter (1992) claimed individual ability to hold multiple interpretations depends on working memory capacity;
○ Caplan and Waters (1999) argued working memory isn’t involved as comprehension is done by a separate system.
5.1.3 Working memory as more than STM
● Baddeley and Hitch (1974) investigated whether STM acts as working memory:
○ They used a dualtask paradigm (if two tasks interfere with each other they may be competing for the same limited resource):
■ Participants simultaneously did an STM test, remembering and repeating a sixdigit sequence, along with one of three cognitive tasks: reasoning, language comprehension or list learning;
○ They found:
■ load in the STM task adversely affected cognitive performance, although a small number of items could be remembered without affecting the main task much, suggesting that information might be transiently stored and processed simultaneously by working memory, and that there may be two systems involved, one for storage and one for
processing;
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