USMLE

Working Memory

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Memory
  1. Sensory Memory
  2. Short-Term Memory
  3. Working Memory
  4. Long Term Memory

Summary

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Key Points

  • Working Memory
    • Second step of information processing model
      • Occurs after Sensory Memory, but before Long Term Memory
      • Thought to operate in parallel with Short Term Memory on different tasks
    • Function
      • Manipulation and processing of information
        • Chunking
          • Breaking and organizing information into smaller units (“chunks”) to aid memory
            • e.g. telephone number is broken up into two sets of digits ###-####
        • Central Executive
          • Coordinates attention and task switching between other processing tasks
        • Visuospatial sketchpad
          • Processing of visuals and manipulation into mental maps (visuals projected into space)
        • Phonological loop
          • Processing of verbal information, like words / numbers
          • Can come from both iconic or echoic stimuli (reading / hearing)
        • Episodic Buffer
          • Temporal processing (understanding timelines)
          • Also thought to integrate long-term memory knowledge into processing
            • e.g. calculations for tips at a restaurant
    • Duration
      • Similar to Short Term Memory
    • Capacity
      • Similar to Short Term Memory