The Working Memory Model

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AimsTo focus on the essential information needed for a summary of the working memory model. To provide a model for how to write a part c) answer on this topic.

EXAM QUESTION: Outline and evaluate the working memory model of memory. (18)

One strength of this model is that it has plenty of experimental support. There are several studies where people have to divide their attention between two tasks, for example saying sequences of numbers out loud while attempting a logical puzzle (Baddeley and Hitch (1974)). The fact that people are able to do two things at the same time shows that Baddeley’s idea that short term memory is not just one store but is rather several components must be right. Furthermore, people find it very hard to do two tasks at the same time which require the operation of the same component of memory (see Baddeley et al (1973)). This is good evidence for the idea that each component system has limited capacity. (122)

One problem with this model is that the most important part, the central executive, is also the hardest to understand. In controlling the working memory systems, it has the role of monitoring and co-ordinating sub-systems and plays a major role in attention, planning and synthesising information. However, it is hard to devise an experiment to show the central executive in action. If a component of working memory works, we can say that this is because the central executive allows it to work but we cannot say how or why it does so. When we are discussing the problem of how processes are monitored, we are entering the problem of how we are conscious of what we are doing, a problem which psychologists find very difficult to solve. (128)
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