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Baddeley's Model of Working Memory

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on November 18, 2012 at 10:02:16 pm

Baddeley's Model of Working Memory



     Working memory, previously referred to as short-term memory, refers to the memory that one is currently processing.  This memory lasts for less than a minute and is limited in capacity.  In an attempt to better understand working memory, Alan Baddeley developed the working memory approach.  According to this approach, working memory is a system with several different parts that control the information being processed.  This led to the development of Allan Baddeley’s Model of Working Memory.  This model assumes that each component has a limited capacity and is relatively, not entirely, independent of the others.  Baddeley’s original model contained three components, the phonological loop, the visuo-spatial sketchpad, and the central executive.  However, the current model also contains the episodic buffer.


     The phonological loop processes sounds and is responsible for speech based information.  This includes sounds that are processed in one’s mind.  For example, the phonological loop is used in learning new vocabulary, problem-solving, math problems, and remembering instructions.  In all these tasks, sounds are being processed through the phonological loop.  The two components of the phonological loop are the phonological store and the articulatory control process.  The phonological store holds the information for 1.5-2 seconds.  The articulatory control process refreshes the information in the phonological store.  It also converts written material into phonological code so that it can be registered by the phonological store   


     The visuo-spatial sketchpad is responsible for processing visual and spatial information.  It can be fed either directly, through perception, or indirectly, through a visual image.  The visuo-spatial sketchpad allows people to store images of objects and their locations.  The sketchpad is also used in navigation.  When a person goes from one location to another, it is the visuo-spatial sketchpad that is stimulated.  It is also activated in various activities such as puzzles, mazes, and games.  There are two components to the sketchpad.  The visual cache stores information pertaining to color and visual form.  The inner scribe rehearses information from the visual cache and transfers information from the visual cache to the central executive.  The inner scribe also deals with spatial and movement information, and is involved in the planning and execution of body movements.  

     The central executive incorporates information from the phonological loop, the visuo-spatial sketchpad, the episodic buffer, and from long-term memory.  The complexity of the central executive is not yet fully known.  Some of the major functions involved with the central executive are the switching of retrieval plans, time sharing in multitasking, selective attention, suppressing irrelevant information, daydreaming, and temporary activation of long-term memory.  These are not all of the functions of the central executive, and it is important to realize that it is not fully clear what the central executive is capable of.       

     The episodic buffer was not a part of Baddley’s original model.  It was added to the model 25 years later.  It is seen as a place to temporarily integrate information gathered from the phonological loop, visuo-spatial sketchpad, and long-term memory.  The episodic buffer is controlled by the central executive, yet it transfers information into and out of the long term store.  The addition of the episodic buffer allowed a clearer connection to be made between working memory and long-term memory. 


                 Original model (no episodic buffer)                            Current model (with episodic buffer) 





1. A brief, interactive version of Baddeley's original model of working memory.



2. The National Center For Learning Disabilities website explains working memory, different types, and discusses how problems in working memory could cause learning disabilities. 


3. Science Direct provides an article that explains in great detail the addition of the episodic buffer to Baddeley's model of working memory. 


4. Just interested in some basic quick facts? eLearning coach provides 20 facts you should know about working memory. 



5. Pearson explains the crucial parts of working memory for various ages and gives examples of what would indicate that working memory needs improvement.


6. A brief description of each component in working memory model and its strengths and weaknesses.



7. Still not quite sure what exactly working memory is? Dr. Torkel Klingberg gives a brief but very explanatory description.



8. A long, but very informative scholarly article of the history of working memory in great detail.



9. GoCognitive provides several different videos of Baddeley himself explaining his model of working memory.



10. Interested in bettering your working memory? This game provided by Cogmed, a division of Pearson, is not only fun, but it will improve you working memory. 





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*Disclaimer: All information, images, and links on this website are thought to be public information.  If there is a problem with any copyright violations, email Jessica.R.Wright@live.mercer.edu













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