Working Memory

Bill Skaggs skaggs at bns.pitt.edu
Wed Jun 14 08:28:59 EST 2000

"Christian Stapfer" <chstapfer at nospam.bluewin.ch> writes:
> From reading "Comprehension: A Paradigm for Cognition"
> (Walter Kintsch, 1998) I get the impression that the
> above definition is not 'adequate', and that a truly
> adequate definition of 'working memory' is not likely
> to be all that simple.
>     Neither the traditionally assumed severe capacity
> limits (7 +/- 2), nor the idea of moving content from
> long-term memory to short-term ('working') memory and
> back, seem to be generally valid.
>     Kintsch uses the terms 'short-term working memory'
> (ST-WM) and 'long-term working memory' (LT-WM), as well
> as the idea of 'retrieval structures' in order to theorize
> the role of 'working memory' in text understanding.

There is a difference between "short term memory" and "working
memory"; the two terms are not synonymous.  Essentially, "short term
memory" is memory that only lasts for a short period of time; "working
memory" is memory that is only *used* for a limited period of time (on
a specific task).  This is why the phrase "short-term working memory",
as used by Kintsch, is not redundant.  In principle it would be
possible for working memories to be stored in a neural trace that is
permanent rather than short-lasting.

	-- Bill

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