This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 06 table of contents.

Working Memory

Whatever information is held in attention at a given moment is said to be in working memory. This is the information you are "thinking about." Working memory is also called primary memory and short-term memory.

What is working memory? What are its two components?

Brain scans show that working memory involves two components: short-term storage that lasts only for a few seconds, and longer-term "executive processes that operate on the contents of storage" (Smith & Jonides, 1999). Zelinsky & Murphy (2000) describe the short-term process as a visual scratchpad which briefly preserves the visual appearance of a scene, while the longer-term process is a verbal storage system used when people rehearse or repeat something to themselves again and again to remember it.

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