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Working memory

The active maintenance + manipulation of short term memory

--> STM here, is used to maintain info for a brief period

ex.: repeating a phone number constantly before being able to put it in phone


Cognitive/Executive control

Refers to the manipulation + application of working memory to guide behavior in a constantly changing world that includes

a) planning
b) attention
c) mental flexibility/task switching
d) response + cognitive inhibition


Long term memory
(days to years)

Permanent or near permanent storage of memory that lasts beyond a period of conscious attention

--> semantic + episodic memories are subcategories


Short term memory
(sec to min)

Temporary memory that is maintained/stored through active rehearsal

--> used as the site of working memory operations
--> are transient, existing only briefly


Transient memories

Short lasting mental representations, sometimes persisting for only a few seconds

--> short term + sensory memory are subcategories


Sensory memory
(millisec. to sec.)

Brief, transient sensations of what one has just perceived

--> there is a form of sensory memory for each sensory modality

ex.: Iconic visual store/Visual sensory memory, Echoic store


What are the characteristics of the STM ?

1. Limited capacity

2. Effortlessly available

3. Contains active contents of consciousness

4. Things are forgotten quickly


Millers "Magic number" /Span of immediate memory

Suggestion that the capacity of the short term memory is limited to 7 items

--> 5-9


What are the characteristics of the LTM ?

1. Unlimited capacity

2. Access requires effort

3. Contains contents that aren't necessarily currently in consciousness

4. Things are forgotten more slowly


What is the STM limited by ?

1. By what you can pay ATTENTION to

ex.: if you get distracted, you might forget what you paid attention to previously


--> magic number


What is key to optimizing the amount of information that can be maintained in STM ?

The recoding of information / Chunking

--> the limit to short therm memory is not an absolute amount of information but a limit in the number of UNIQUE CONCEPTS or links to long term memory that can be held active


Baddeley's working memory model of working memory

Describes what goes on inside the WM, containing two separately stored WM buffers

a) Visuospatial sketchpad
b) Phonological loop


Atkinson-Shiffrin modal-model of memory

Info is first stored in sensory memory

2. Items selected by ATTENTIONAL processes are moved into STM storage

3. REHEARSED items are moved into LTM storage

--> at each stage info is lost by decay, interference or combination of both


Visuospatial sketchpad

Maintains VISUAL + SPATIAL images for manipulation

--> right VLPFC


Phonological loop

Maintains AUDITORY/VERBAL memories for manipulation by means of internal speech which is used during rehearsal

--> left VLPFC


Central executive/Supervisory attentional system
(Working component of the WM)

Monitors + manipulates both of the WM buffers and keeps the WM therefore updated by

1. Adding to + deleting from the items in buffers

2. Receiving + evaluating sensory info

3. Retrieving info from LTM

4. Deciding which info is necessary for which task

=> guides behavior


Why is internal speech key to the phonological loop ?

1. People with slow rates of speech but normal intelligence will do worse on STM verbal memory tasks

--> the repetition of sequences in the head will take longer

2. If internal rehearsal is disrupted, phonological storage cannot occur


Word length effect

As the length of the words increases, the number of words you can remember declines

--> multi-syllable words take longer to rehearse

ex. university, auditorium vs bat, kit


Delayed non match-to-sample (DNMS) task

Test of visual memory in which a subject must indicate which of 2 novel objects is not the same as one that was recently seen

--> reward is given


Is WM a place or a state ?

WM describes an active STATE for memories otherwise resident in LTM but not accessible to conscious reflection

--> requires manipulation until they are activated

ex.: paintings in a museum going from obscure to illuminated, their place being unchanged


Model of STM

States the several chunks of info in the LTM can be activated as the focus of current attention

--> suggests that the STM has 2 different types of activated states


Multi store models of memory

1. Imply the existence of 2 or more different places for memories to be stored

2. Capacity limits are governed by the rate at which info is rehearsed, forgotten, transferred

--> place based


Unitary store models of memory

1. Imply there is only ONE place for memory, although the memories can be in various states

2. Capacity limits arise from the bandwidth of attention that can be focused on activated areas of LTM

--> state based


Tower of hanoi

Requires manipulating the WM to a great extent, because one has to remember at least 3 things at all times

1. What subgoals have been accomplished
2. What subgoals remain
3. What the next subgoal is to be addressed


Wisconsin card sorting test


1. Learning a rule + keeping it in mind

2. Learning to change the rule + keeping track if the new one without confusing it with the old one

--> Mental flexibility/Task switching


Stroop task

The names of colors are printed from top to bottom, each in a color that does not correspond to the name

--> requires controlled processes


Which 2 types of processes occur in parallel, competing to influence our behaviors ?

a) automatic processes

b) controlled processes


Automatic processes

Are triggered by situational cues

--> deeply ingrained, reflexive + typically occur with minimal conscious awareness

--> do not interfere with concurrent activities


Controlled processes

Are mediated by the "Supervisory attentional system" that modifies behaviour when the automatic responses are inappropriate

ex.: paying extra attention in england, because cars drive on opposite sides



Refers to the capacity for leaning, reasoning + understanding

--> associated with a strong WM, especially the control + manipulation of larger numbers of

a) rules
b) concepts
c) goals
d) ideas