This volume in the Counterpoints series compares and contrasts different conceptions of working memory, generally recognized as the mechanism within the human cognitive system that is responsible for the temporary storage and processing of information. This notion has been used in a wide variety of ways, partly because it encapsulates several themes that have appeared in the history of research into human memory and cognition. Consequently, variations in the usage of the term working memory also arise because it is invoked by theorists with different research agendas and perspectives. The book includes contributions from proponents of different views: Robert Logie discusses the existence of three different components that control temporary verbal storage, temporary visuo-spatial storage, and the central coordination of both processing and storage, including the retrieval of information from long-term memory. Ellen Stoltzfus, Lynn Hasher, and Rose Zacks focus on the inhibitory processes that control the entrance of information into working memory and update the contents by deleting information that is no longer relevant to the task at hand. Randall Engle argues that individual differences in working memory are tantamount to differences in the attentional resources needed to retrieve information from memory, and that these lead to differences in the ability to inhibit or suppress irrelevant information. Finally, editor John Richardson identifies the key issues that have divided researchers in this field and gives an integrated account of what has been discovered about working memory. As interest in working memory is increasing at a rapid pace, an open discussion of the central issues involved is both useful and timely. This work serves this purpose for cognitive psychologists and their students.
"Working Memory and Human Cognition gets my 'thumbs up'. . . . A major strength of the volume is its extensive coverage of working memory theories and research."--Contemporary Psychology
"The discussion focuses specifically on three ongoing debates, namely, whether working memory is a single-component or multiple-component system, whether working memory is structurally and functionally related to long-term memory, and whether working memory contains general or domain-specific resources. Overall, a good book for graduate students and upper-division undergraduate students, faculty, and researchers."--Choice
"This slim book manages to cover in five chapters several strikingly different conceptions of working memory (WM). Although the term is commonly used in discourse in the field assuming the reader knows what is meant, it is interesting to see how volatile the concept of WM actually is. For example, the book makes clear that there is a major disagreement over whether WM is structurally separate from long-term memory (LTM) or whether WM consists of a single general capacity or several distinct components. The authors, to their credit, highlight these points of disagreement for the reader. Different chapters represent various points of view, including both North American and European research traditions."--Lester Loschky in the American Journal of Psychology
"One of the benefits of Working Memory and Human Cognition is the theoretical and historical information available in each chapter. The authors present high-quality background information regarding their ideas of working memory, as well as a number of references to the research findings on which these ideas are based. . . . From a practical standpoint, this book will be of use to several audiences: clinicians, researchers, and students. . . . In summary, the authors of Working Memory and Human Cognition present a tremendous amount of information concerning the concept of working memory. Richardson accomplishes his goal of identifying the major issues and common themes related to working memory. However, the most valuable aspect of this book is the dynamic interplay of ideas that takes place as the authors articulate their thought processes in the development of an emerging reconceptualization of working memory."--Heather L. Christensen in the American Journal of Psychology
"The purpose of this book is to compare and contrast the different conceptions of working memory that have evolved over the last 20 years in the field of cognitive psychology. It is a clearly written, concise compilation of five chapters by some of the leading investigators in the area. It will prove to be a useful resource to those of us involved in research on the topic." - Christopher Randolph, Journal of International Neuropsychological Society, 2000