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Working memory period: The endurance of mental representations

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Working memory span assesses the maximum number of items that can be remembered in the face of concurrent processing. Models of working memory differ on several dimensions, yet many rely exclusively on this span procedure for their evidence. Three experiments consider an alternative paradigm that attempts to capture the endurance limits for remembering a fixed number of items during concurrent processing. Eight-year-old children performed two versions of this working memory period measure—operation period and reading period. Period scores show healthy test–retest reliability and external validity for scholastic attainment, comparing well with span scores in these respects. In addition, period is highly correlated with span and shows similar effects of varying the order in which stimuli are presented. We conclude that the durability of representations is an important factor in both span and period.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK 2: University of York, York, UK 3: CDR Ltd., Reading, UK 4: Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK

Publication date: April 1, 2005

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