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Processing and storage in working memory span

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Two experiments are reported that address theoretical assumptions as to the nature of working memory involved in working memory span tasks (Daneman & Carpenter, 1980). Experiment 1 used a version of the sentence span task, and Experiment 2 combined arithmetic verification with recall of presented words. In each experiment, working memory processing span was assessed independently of temporary storage span prior to their combination. Combined task performance under high demand for each component resulted in substantial residual performance for both task elements, particularly in Experiment 2. The results do not challenge the utility of the sentence span task as a measure of on-line cognition, but they raise concerns as to how resource might be allocated to processing and storage elements of the task within a single flexible resource pool, or between different resources of a multiple component working memory system. Although both models lack predictive power regarding resource allocation in these tasks, the multiple resource model appears to offer the better account.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Institute for Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen, Norway 2: University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, U.K.

Publication date: February 1, 2001


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