Presentation: New Approaches to Training Working Memory

Yesterday I was invited to give this 15-minute presentation (PPT, PDF) to LearningRX about recent perspectives on working memory limitations, and their potential for informing cognitive training and enhancement programs.

In case you're curious, here's a list of references:

Baddeley, A. D. (1986) Working Memory. Oxford University Press.

Broadbent, D.E. (1975), The magic number seven after fifteen years. In A. Kennedy and A. Wilkes (eds.), Studies in Long-Term Memory, New York: Wiley, 3-18.

Duncan J, Emslie H, Williams P, Johnson R, Freer C (1996) Intelligence and the frontal lobe: the organization of goal-directed behavior. Cogn Psychol 30:257-303.

Ericsson, K. A., Chase, W. G., & Faloon, S. (1980). Acquisition of a memory skill. Science, 208, 1181-1182.

Kliegl, R., Smith, J., Heckhausen, J., & Baltes, P. B. (1987). Mnemonic training for the acquisition of skilled digit memory. Cognition and Instruction, 4, 203-223.

Klingberg T, Fernell E, Olesen P, Johnson M, Gustafsson P, Dahlström K, Gillberg CG, Forssberg H, Westerberg H (2005) Computerized Training of Working Memory in Children with ADHD - a Randomized, Controlled, Trial.
J American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 44 (2):177-186

Miller, G. A. (1956). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological Review, 63, 81-97

Munakata, Y. (2001). Graded representations in behavioral dissociations. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 5(7), 309-315

Rueda, M.R., Rothbart, M.K.. & Saccamanno, L. & Posner, M.I. (2005) Training,maturation and genetic influences on the development of executive attention. Proc.U.S Nat'l Acad of Sciences 102, 14931-14936.

Sternberg, S. (1966). High-speed scanning in human memory. Science, 153, 652-654.

Towse JN, Hitch GJ, Hamilton Z, Peacock K, Hutton UM. (2005). Working memory period: the endurance of mental representations. Q J Exp Psychol A. 2005 Apr;58(3):547-71.

Unsworth N, Engle RW. (2007). The nature of individual differences in working memory capacity: active maintenance in primary memory and controlled search from secondary memory. Psychol Rev. 2007 Jan;114(1):104-32.Click here to read

Vernon, D. (2005). Can neurofeedback training enhance performance? An evaluation of the evidence with implications for future research. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 30(4), 347-364.

Vogel, E. K., McCollough, A. W., & Machizawa, M. G. (2005). Neural measures reveal individual differences in controlling access to visual working memory. Nature, 438, 500-503.

Williams J, Ramaswamy D, Oulhaj A. (2006). 10 Hz flicker improves recognition memory in older people. BMC Neuroscience 2006, 7:21 (5 March 2006)

More like this

Do you ever wonder if your mood affects the way you think? I'm not talking about behaving more aggressively when you're angry or more passively when you're sad; I'm talking about the subtler impact on cognitive processing. Some recent research has indicated that we process things differently…
In the previous entry, I made some disparaging remarks about conceptual metaphor theory (CMT), and George Lakoff specifically. I also noted that, in my experience,, the psycholinguist Raymond Gibbs, Jr. is the only one in the cognitive linguistics who seriously addresses the evidence and…
To enhance any system, one first needs to identify its capacity-limiting factor(s). Human cognition is a highly complex and multiply constrained system, consisting of both independent and interdependent capacity-limitations. These "bottlenecks" in cognition are reviewed below as a coherent…
The text below will bring up an animation. Just look at it once -- no cheating! A picture will flash for about a quarter of a second, followed by a color pattern for a quarter second. Then the screen will go blank for about one second, and four objects will appear. Use the poll below to indicate…

Great list of references. Thanks Chris!

I have come accross the name LearningRX a couple of times recently, they seem to offer training to people with disabilities. Have you seen any published research? They could potentially be a partner for us.


Thanks for posting the presentation, and especially for the references.

Can you explain the "operation span" examples on page 6 of the PPT? (E.g., Is 4 x 3 = 12? Drill) ...though I suppose I could read Towse et al...

Dave - Operation span involves the subject speaking the letters/numbers/symbols aloud, and then replacing the question mark with "yes" or "no," and then remember the following word. So in the example you give, subjects would say: "Is four times three equal to twelve, yes, drill." And then continue onto the next operation. At the conclusion of some number of operations they'd have to recall all of the operation-final words (i.e., drill etc).

Alvaro - They do offer training to kids with disabilities, but I don't think the programs are limited to those with disabilities. I think they'd be a great partner... drop me a line if you want to talk about this more.

By Chris Chatham (not verified) on 01 Mar 2007 #permalink