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Cognition, 8e
Chapter 4
Working Memory
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Classic Research on
Working Memory
George Miller's "Magical Number
Seven" (7 ± 2)
• suggested that people can remember
about seven items (give or take two)
• chunk—memory unit consisting of
strongly associated components
• proposed that people engage in internal
mental processes in order to convert
stimuli into a manageable number of
chunks
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Classic Research on
Working Memory
Other Early Research on the Capacity
of Short-Term-Memory
The Brown/Peterson & Peterson
Technique
• Material held in memory for less than a
minute is frequently forgotten.
• present some items to be remembered;
count backwards by threes (distractor task);
attempt recall
• rehearsal
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Classic Research on
Working Memory
Other Early Research on the Capacity
of Short-Term-Memory
The Recency Effect
serial-position effect
recency effect
primacy effect
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Classic Research on
Working Memory
Other Early Research on the Capacity
of Short-Term-Memory
Semantic Similarity of the Items in
Short-Term Memory
semantics
Wickens and colleagues (1976)
• proactive interference (PI)
• Brown/Peterson & Peterson task varying
semantic similarity on Trial 4
• release from proactive interference
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Alan Baddeley & Graham Hitch (1974)
What does short-term memory accomplish
for our cognitive processes?
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
working-memory approach—Our
immediate memory is a multipart system
that temporarily holds and manipulates
information while we perform cognitive
tasks.
• central executive
• visuospatial sketchpad
• episodic buffer
• phonological loop
• long-term memory
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
The working-memory approach
emphasizes the active manipulation of
information in working memory.
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Evidence for Components with
Independent Capacities
Working memory is not unitary
Baddeley & Hitch (1974)
• random numbers and spatial reasoning
task
• People performed remarkably quickly and
accurately on both of these two
simultaneous tasks.
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
In Depth: Phonological Loop
phonological loop—processes a limited
number of sounds for a short period of time
subvocalization
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
In Depth: Phonological Loop
Research on Acoustic Confusions
acoustic confusions
Conrad & Hull (1964)
• list of letters, presented visually
• letters with similar-sounding names vs.
letters with different-sounding names
lists of words
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
In Depth: Phonological Loop
Other Uses for the Phonological Loop
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counting
forming long term memories
self-instruction
acquiring new vocabulary
reading
learning foreign language
mathematical calculations
problem-solving tasks
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
In Depth: Phonological Loop
Neuroscience Research on the
Phonological Loop
frontal lobe
left temporal lobe
Romero Lauro and colleagues (2010)
• Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
• left temporal lobe, left parietal lobe
• rehearsal, storage
• short vs. long sentences
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Visuospatial Sketchpad
visuospatial sketchpad—processes both
visual and spatial information
also known as: visuospatial working memory,
short-term visual memory
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Visuospatial Sketchpad
Allows you to:
• store visual appearance and relative
position
• store visual information encoded from
verbal stimuli
limited capacity
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Visuospatial Sketchpad
Research on the Visuospatial Sketchpad
performing two visuospatial tasks
simultaneously
• no standardized set of visual stimuli
• tendency to provide names for visual
stimuli, thus using phonological loop
instead
• Brandimonte and colleagues (1992)—say
"la la la" while looking at complex visual
stimulus
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Visuospatial Sketchpad
Other Uses for the Visuospatial
Sketchpad
• engineering, art, architecture
• retaining image of a scene
• finding your way from one location to
another
• track a moving object
• videogames, jigsaw puzzles, mazes
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Visuospatial Sketchpad
Neuroscience Research on the
Visuospatial Sketchpad
right hemisphere
occipital lobe
frontal cortex
frontal and parietal lobes
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Central Executive
central executive
• integrates information from the
phonological loop, the visuospatial
sketchpad, the episodic buffer, and longterm memory
• plays a role in: focusing attention,
selecting strategies, transforming
information, and coordinating behavior
• suppressing irrelevant information
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Central Executive
Characteristics of the Central Executive
• plans and coordinates, but does not store
information
• executive supervisor
• decides which issues deserve attention
• selects a strategy
• decides how to tackle a problem
• limited ability to perform simultaneous tasks
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Central Executive
The Central Executive and Daydreaming
Teasdale and colleagues (1995)
• random-number generation task
• report thoughts
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Central Executive
Neuroscience Research on the Central
Executive
frontal region of the cortex
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Episodic Buffer
• temporary storehouse that can hold and
combine information from the
phonological loop, the visuospatial
sketchpad, and long-term memory
• integrates information from different
modalities
• manipulates information for
interpretation
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Episodic Buffer (continued)
• make connections between concepts
• limited capacity
• temporary memory system
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Working Memory and Academic
Performance
1. Scores on working-memory tasks are
correlated with overall intelligence and
grades in school.
2. Scores on tests of working memory—
especially the phonological loop—are
usually correlated with reading ability.
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4
The Working-Memory
Approach
Working Memory and Academic
Performance
3. Scores on central-executive tasks are
correlated with verbal fluency, reading
comprehension, reasoning ability, and
note-taking skills.
4. People with AttentionDeficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
often have more difficulty than others on
central-executive tasks.
Cognition, 8e by Margaret W. Matlin
Chapter 4

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