Developing the theory of working memory

Richardson, John T. E. (1984). Developing the theory of working memory. Memory & Cognition, 12(1) pp. 71–83.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196999

Abstract

The theory of working memory was devised to explain the effects of a concurrent memory load in various experimental situations in terms of the operation of a central executive processor and a phonemic response buffer. It also explains the effects of phonemic similarity, articulatory suppression, word length, and unattended speech. Experiment 1 demonstrated that a concurrent memory load markedly reduced the phonemic similarity effect in immediate serial recall, which was taken to support the concept of a limited-capacity phonemic response buffer. A more detailed analysis of the results suggested that a concurrent memory load may affect the storage capacity of the central executive processor and the translation of orthographic stimuli into phonological representations, as well as the storage capacity of the phonemic response buffer. Experiment 2 showed that a concurrent free-recall task reduced the phonemic similarity effect in immediate serial recall, but only in the case of visually presented sequences of items. Moreover, unattended speech was found to have no effect upon performance in immediate free recall. These results were taken to imply that the phonemic response buffer contributes only to performance in cognitive tasks that require the accurate retention of serial-order information.

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