Variation in Working Memory Capacity as Variation in Executive Attention and Control

Michael J. Kane, Andrew R. A. Conway, David Z. Hambrick and Randall W. Engle

in Variation in Working Memory

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780195168648
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199847297 | DOI:
Variation in Working Memory Capacity as Variation in Executive Attention and Control

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This chapter shows how immediate memory represents a distinct system or set of processes from long memory. Working memory (WM) was proposed as a dynamic system that enabled active maintenance of task-relevant information in support of the simultaneous execution of complex cognitive tasks. Working memory span tasks measure executive attention processes that are believed to be domain general and contribute to WM span performance irrespective of the skills or the stimuli involved. WM span tasks reflect primarily general executive processes and domain-specific rehearsal and storage processes. Thus, executive processes help maintain or recover access to the target items in the absence of focal attention and effective rehearsal procedures. WM capacity variation, which is driven largely by individual differences in executive attention processes, represents a web of inference across correlational and experimental studies.

Keywords: immediate memory; long memory; dynamic system; cognitive tasks; working memory; executive processes

Chapter.  16381 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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