Saturday, February 18, 2006

Excellent working memory review article

FYI - An excellent review article on working memory tasks. The article title, abstract, and link to a copy of article is provided below. The artilce is a good user's guide on the status of three types of working memory tasks often used in cognitive psychology research... counting, operation and reading span tasks. It also provides a nice overview of the history of working memory tasks and the state-of-the-art on the research conducted with these types of task to date.

In addition, the article presents a concise description of the Conway et al's model of working memory that features the notion of domain-general executive attention ( I would recommend reading that brief section to better understand this influential model of working memory). According to Conway et al., " We view WM as a multicomponent system responsible for active maintenance of information in the face of ongoing processing and/or distraction. Active maintenance of information is the result of converging processes—most notably, domain-specific storage and rehearsal processes and domain-general executive attention. Furthermore, the extent to which maintenance depends on domain-specific skills versus domain-general executive attention varies as a function of individual ability, task context, and ability × context interactions."

Of the working memory models I've reviewed, this domain-general executive attention mechanism-based model is one that resonates best to what I've gleaned from my personal reading of the research. Just my two cents.

Conway, A., Kane, M., Bunting, M., Hambrick, D and Wilhelm, O. (2005) Working memory span tasks: A methodological
review and user’s guide. Psychonomic Bulletin Review, 12 (5), 769-786


  • Working memory (WM) span tasks—and in particular, counting span, operation span, and reading span tasks—are widely used measures of WM capacity. Despite their popularity, however, there has never been a comprehensive analysis of the merits of WM span tasks as measurement tools. Here, we review the genesis of these tasks and discuss how and why they came to be so influential. In so doing, we address the reliability and validity of the tasks, and we consider more technical aspects of the tasks, such as optimal administration and scoring procedures. Finally, we discuss statistical and methodological techniques that have commonly been used in conjunction with WM span tasks, such as latent variable analysis and extreme-groups designs.
Click here to read/view article....

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