25th APS Annual Convention: Mark Your Calendar (Washington, DC, USA - May 23-26, 2013)

Invited Symposium

(Top-)Models of Working Memory

Saturday, May 25, 2013, 1:30 PM - 2:50 PM
Maryland Suite A

Valérie Camos Chair: Valérie Camos
Université de Fribourg, Switzerland

Working memory (WM) is the system holding transient representations for processing purpose. Thus, it is a central component of human cognition. The goal of this symposium is to present the major perspectives about WM by three experts and to discuss current issues and future directions for research.

Subject Area: Cognitive

Pierre Barrouillet

The Time-Based Resource-Sharing (TBRS) Model of Working Memory
Pierre Barrouillet
Université de Genève, Switzerland
According to the TBRS model, working memory functioning is time-constrained. Attention switches frequently back and forth between processing and storage to restore decaying memory traces before resuming the ongoing cognitive activity. The talk addresses the structural and functional implications of this conception and reviews a series of supporting empirical evidence.

Nelson Cowan

Attention and Working Memory for Features and Objects
Nelson Cowan
University of Missouri-Columbia
Working memory (WM) requires attention but also attention-free mechanisms. Because of this complexity of WM, determining its capacity limits is challenging. Based on dual-task findings, we propose that attention-based WM holds several items concurrently, but with off-loading of one domain’s information to long-term memory, freeing up attention for another domain.

Randall W. Engle

Mechanisms Contributing to Working Memory Capacity
Randall W. Engle
Georgia Institute of Technology
Individual differences in working memory capacity (WMC) predict performance in a wide array of real-world tasks. Further, working memory capacity tasks reflect important temporary reductions in WMC associated with sleep deprivation, drug use, psychopathology, and many other intervening variables. However, we still are uncertain about the exact nature of these individual differences and the relationship of the many different tasks thought to reflect WMC. I will present a study focusing on three mechanisms important to WMC: maintenance in primary memory, retrieval from secondary memory, and the ability to resist having one's attention captured by pre-potent tendencies. Structural equation modeling reveals that each of these mechanisms is important to explaining individual differences in working memory capacity. Further analyses reveal that the degree to which these mechanisms are apparent may be driven by the type of task used to operationalize working memory capacity. Performance on span-based working memory tasks is strongly related to memory-related predictors, while change detection-based visual arrays tasks are strongly related to the ability to resist having one's attention captured.

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