David M. Rieder ORCID logo

North Carolina State University
Raleigh, The United States of America

INDECS 19(1), 1-12, 2021
DOI 10.7906/indecs.19.1.1
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Received: 21st February 2020.
Accepted: 21st February 2021.
Regular article


In this article, we focus on working memory, the ability to store and actively manipulate information for a short period of time, and present two prominent theoretical frameworks for its study: Baddeley and Hitch's multicomponent model of working memory and Cowan's embedded-processes model. The multicomponent model assumes modality specific "slave" components for temporary storage and rehearsal of information and a central executive component that controls the entire system and determines what information enters and leaves the stores. The embedded-processes model, on the other hand, gives a more general description of the working memory system by focusing on its processes. It assumes that attention allocated to representations stored in the long-term memory underlies the short-term maintenance of information. We further describe in more detail how models conceptualize and define working memory, its components, and the processes involved, as well as factors in limiting its capacity. Finally, we describe similarities and differences between the models and present how the components of the models can be mapped to one another and to the brain systems.

working memory, multicomponent model, model of embedded-processes, representations, active maintenance


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