The relationships of working memory, secondary memory, and general fluid intelligence: Working memory is special. By Shelton, Jill Talley; Elliott, Emily M.; Matthews, Russell A.; Hill, B. D.; Gouvier, Wm. Drew
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Vol 36(3)
, May 2010, 813-820.
Recent efforts have been made to elucidate the commonly observed link between working memory and reasoning ability. The results have been inconsistent, with some work suggesting that the emphasis placed on retrieval from secondary memory by working memory tests is the driving force behind this association (Mogle, Lovett, Stawski, & Sliwinski, 2008), whereas other research suggests retrieval from secondary memory is only partly responsible for the observed link between working memory and reasoning (Unsworth & Engle, 2006, 2007). In the present study, we investigated the relationship between processing speed, working memory, secondary memory, primary memory, and fluid intelligence. Although our findings show that all constructs are significantly correlated with fluid intelligence, working memory—but not secondary memory—accounts for significant unique variance in fluid intelligence. Our data support predictions made by Unsworth and Engle (2006, 2007) and suggest that the combined need for maintenance and retrieval processes present in working memory tests makes them special in their prediction of higher order cognition.