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      About the Distinction between Working Memory and Short-Term Memory

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          The theoretical concepts short-term memory (STM) and working memory (WM) have been used to refer to the maintenance and the maintenance plus manipulation of information, respectively. Although they are conceptually different, the use of the terms STM and WM in literature is not always strict. STM and WM are different theoretical concepts that are assumed to reflect different cognitive functions. However, correlational studies have not been able to separate both constructs consistently and there is evidence for a large or even complete overlap. The emerging view from neurobiological studies is partly different, although there are conceptual problems troubling the interpretation of findings. In this regard, there is a crucial role for the tasks that are used to measure STM or WM (simple and complex span tasks, respectively) and for the cognitive load reflected by factors like attention and processing speed that may covary between and within these tasks. These conceptual issues are discussed based on several abstract models for the relation between STM and WM.

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          The magical number seven plus or minus two: some limits on our capacity for processing information.

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            Individual differences in working memory and reading

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              The episodic buffer: a new component of working memory?

               Alan Baddeley (2000)
              In 1974, Baddeley and Hitch proposed a three-component model of working memory. Over the years, this has been successful in giving an integrated account not only of data from normal adults, but also neuropsychological, developmental and neuroimaging data. There are, however, a number of phenomena that are not readily captured by the original model. These are outlined here and a fourth component to the model, the episodic buffer, is proposed. It comprises a limited capacity system that provides temporary storage of information held in a multimodal code, which is capable of binding information from the subsidiary systems, and from long-term memory, into a unitary episodic representation. Conscious awareness is assumed to be the principal mode of retrieval from the buffer. The revised model differs from the old principally in focussing attention on the processes of integrating information, rather than on the isolation of the subsystems. In doing so, it provides a better basis for tackling the more complex aspects of executive control in working memory.

                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychology
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Research Foundation
                23 August 2012
                : 3
                1simpleDepartment of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University Maastricht, Netherlands
                Author notes

                Edited by: Anna M. Borghi, University of Bologna, Italy

                Reviewed by: Marco Sandrini, National Institutes of Health, USA; Gene Brewer, Arizona State University, USA

                *Correspondence: Bart Aben, Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, PO BOX 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, Netherlands. e-mail: l.aben@

                This article was submitted to Frontiers in Cognition, a specialty of Frontiers in Psychology.

                Copyright © 2012 Aben, Stapert and Blokland.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 67, Pages: 9, Words: 8633
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