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Variation in Working Memory$
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Andrew Conway, Chris Jarrold, Michael Kane, Akira Miyake, and John Towse

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195168648

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195168648.001.0001

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

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

(p.21) 2 Variation in Working Memory Capacity as Variation in Executive Attention and Control
Variation in Working Memory

Michael J. Kane

Andrew R. A. Conway

David Z. Hambrick

Randall W. Engle

Oxford University Press

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

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