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      Working Memory Capacity as Executive Attention

      Current Directions in Psychological Science

      Wiley-Blackwell

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          Most cited references 6

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          Working memory, short-term memory, and general fluid intelligence: a latent-variable approach.

          A study was conducted in which 133 participants performed 11 memory tasks (some thought to reflect working memory and some thought to reflect short-term memory), 2 tests of general fluid intelligence, and the Verbal and Quantitative Scholastic Aptitude Tests. Structural equation modeling suggested that short-term and working memories reflect separate but highly related constructs and that many of the tasks used in the literature as working memory tasks reflect a common construct. Working memory shows a strong connection to fluid intelligence, but short-term memory does not. A theory of working memory capacity and general fluid intelligence is proposed: The authors argue that working memory capacity and fluid intelligence reflect the ability to keep a representation active, particularly in the face of interference and distraction. The authors also discuss the relationship of this capability to controlled attention, and the functions of the prefrontal cortex.
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            A controlled-attention view of working-memory capacity.

            In 2 experiments the authors examined whether individual differences in working-memory (WM) capacity are related to attentional control. Experiment 1 tested high- and low-WM-span (high-span and low-span) participants in a prosaccade task, in which a visual cue appeared in the same location as a subsequent to-be-identified target letter, and in an antisaccade task, in which a target appeared opposite the cued location. Span groups identified targets equally well in the prosaccade task, reflecting equivalence in automatic orienting. However, low-span participants were slower and less accurate than high-span participants in the antisaccade task, reflecting differences in attentional control. Experiment 2 measured eye movements across a long antisaccade session. Low-span participants made slower and more erroneous saccades than did high-span participants. In both experiments, low-span participants performed poorly when task switching from antisaccade to prosaccade blocks. The findings support a controlled-attention view of WM capacity.
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              The cocktail party phenomenon revisited: the importance of working memory capacity.

              Wood and Cowan (1995) replicated and extended Moray's (1959) investigation of the cocktail party phenomenon, which refers to a situation in which one can attend to only part of a noisy environment, yet highly pertinent stimuli such as one's own name can suddenly capture attention. Both of these previous investigations have shown that approximately 33% of subjects report hearing their own name in an unattended, irrelevant message. Here we show that subjects who detect their name in the irrelevant message have relatively low working-memory capacities, suggesting that they have difficulty blocking out, or inhibiting, distracting information.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Current Directions in Psychological Science
                Curr Dir Psychol Sci
                Wiley-Blackwell
                0963-7214
                1467-8721
                June 22 2016
                June 22 2016
                : 11
                : 1
                : 19-23
                Article
                10.1111/1467-8721.00160
                © 2016

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