Outline the four components of Baddeley and Hitch's working memory model, and assess to what extent this model has helped us to understand phonological short term memory problems in children with reading disorders.
The working memory model is the dominant and influential theory of memory designed to actively store information and refer to ideas that are thought of, or made available to the mind. Information can be manipulated when it is required during thinking, mental tasks, solving a problem or reasoning tasks (Cowan 2007). Working memory is important in daily life and the memory model gives us an understanding of how memory processes work when we perform a familiar activity, or when we decide to do a task that involves new thinking. Baddeley and Hitch (1974) proposed the working memory model, which represents an elaboration of earlier unitary and passive models of short-term memory proposed by Broadbent (1958) and Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968). The working memory model is the theory of short-term memory, which actively holds information and manipulates it. The short-term storage is presumed as part of the mind that is capable of holding certain information for a limited amount of time, whereas the long-term storage accumulates information throughout an individual’s life. (Baddeley 1986) presented the view that for the short-term storage to be used within the working memory model, the correct information must be stored, kept active in the store until it is needed, then retrieved in time. For example, to remember a phone number until it is dialed again, according to the working memory model, the individual would save the phonetic sequence corresponding to the digits in the short-term storage; by rehearsing the phonetic sequence quietly to oneself it will be kept active in the store; and then mentally read out the contents of the short-term store while dialing. The original model of Baddeley and Hitch (1974) and Baddeley (1986) composed of three main components. Firstly, the most important and versatile component is a system for resembling attention, the ‘central executive’. This is used to allocate resources that are directed and used appropriately to achieve the potential outcome. The central executive has limited capacity and time limit (Cowan, 2007). This means the amount a person can bring to the mind information all at once, to perform a task or solve a problem is limited. There are two subsidiary slave systems that expand from the central executive. One of these is for holding verbal and acoustic information, known as the phonological loop. It consists of two parts: a temporary phonological store with auditory memory traces and an articulatory rehearsal system that can revive the memory traces associated with Brodmann areas, 40 and 44 of the brain (Badeeley, 2000). The second storage system is for holding visual and spatial information, principally represented within the right hemisphere (areas 6, 19, 40 and 47), known as the visualspatial sketchpad (Baddeley, 2000). However, another component was recently added to the working memory model, known as the episodic buffer (Baddeley, 2000). The episodic buffer is described as a ‘multimodal’ temporary store with limited capacity (Eysneck, 2005). It is capable of integrating information from different sources within the working memory and not information from just one modality. For example, information about a scene may comprise visual information, sounds and movements. It is hypothesised the episodic buffer combines together this information into a coherent memory episode. The episodic buffer is different from the phonological loop and the visualspatial sketchpad as both of these systems within the working memory specialise in focusing on particular types of information and nothing else. During our childhood and education, we develop many complex cognitive skills that as adults we may not use in everyday life, including mathematics, reading, language, and...
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