The Working Memory Model Essays

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Essay on Baddeley and Hitch’s Working Memory Model

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This essay addresses the working memory model which was proposed by Baddeley and Hitch (1974 in Smith & Kosslyn, 2007) as a response to Atkinson and Shiffrins (1968 in Smith, 2007) multi-store model. According to Baddely and Hitch the multi-store model failed to explain most of the complexities of the human memory and viewed it as being too simplistic. They argued that the short term memory store must have more components rather it being a single inflexible store as suggested previously by Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968). The working memory model is therefore an enhancement of the multi store model. According to Baddeley and Hitch working memory is a limited- capacity system that stores and processes information.
According to Baddeley and…show more content…

This is interpreted as because the capacity of the phonological loop is limited in time (in Smith, 2007).
Further evidence for the existence of the phonological loop comes from Conrads and Hulls (1975 in Passer, 2009) experiment in which they examined the effect of phonological similarity. They found that serial recall in a list of similar sounding words tended to yield poorer results with participants finding it difficult to remember compared to words that sounded different. It has also been found that recall in semantically similar words tended to have little or no effect, supporting the idea that verbal information is transferred in a phonological manner in working memory. In addition, Vallar and Papagno (1995 in Smith, 2007) found that the phonological store in brain damaged patients were dysfunctional.
Moreover, Hardyk and Petrinovich (1970 in Parkin, 1993) found the articulatory loop to be crucial when being presented with complex information. In their study they measured participants throat muscle and forearm muscle activity although some may argue that this was not a good technique to carry out. Their findings led to them conclude that when participants were presented with complex material their articulatory loop would come in to function (in Parkin, 1993).
In addition, memory span tasks support the existence of the articulatory loop showing that task ability heavily depends on a

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The working model of memory was first proposed by Baddeley and Hitch (1974) in response to Atkinson and Shiffrin's multistore model of memory. The latter model suggested that memory was comprised of three main components - a sensory store, a short-term memory store, and a long-term memory store. Baddeley and Hitch went on to suggest that rather than an ambiguous "short-term" memory store, there exists a "working memory" store, wherein information can be held and manipulated on a conscious platform for a brief period. They proposed that this working-memory store comprised of three distinct components - the phonological loop (which uses subvocal rehearsal to aid the storage of information), the visuo-spatial sketchpad (which uses visual and spatial cues to store information), and the central executive (which supervises and controls the two other systems). This latter component sends information from the phonological loop and visuo-spatial sketchpad to an overall knowledge base, and vice versa. The model has many merits. Neurophysiological studies in patients have indicated that there are indeed separate components for long-term memory and shorter, working-type memory. Patient HM demonstrated impaired long-term memory after brain damage, but had an intact shorter-term memory. Other evidence is shown in the serial-position effect - when people are given lists to recall, they tend to remember early and late words best, but struggle to recall words in the middle of the list. The working memory model explains this well - early words are rehearsed by the phonological loop and transferred into the long-term memory store, and later words are held in the working memory store itself and thus recalled better. Words in the middle of a list are harder to rehearse and less likely to be held in the working memory store, and are thus forgotten. However, alternatives to the working memory model have been made. Lieberman pointed out that theory surrounding the visuo-spatial sketchpad suggests all spatial information is primarily visual, and yet blind people demonstrate excellent spatial awareness. Craik and others have suggested that rather than individual components, memory can be subdivded into different levels of processing, including structural, phonemic, and semantic. Although this theory has it's merit, throughout the literature the prevailing theory is that of the working memory model. The later introduction of the episodic buffer to the model helped explain the problems surrounding consciousness and the movement of short-term memory to the long-term store found by other psychologists, and thus the working model of memory, though not a cohesive model of the whole memory system, is still in use today.


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