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Outline and evaluate the Working Memory Model. (12 marks)
The working memory model was proposed by Baddeley and Hitch in 1974 as an alternative
to the Multi-store model of memory (Atkinson & Shiffrin); which they thought was too
simplistic. The working memory model suggests that that our memory consists of a central
executive; which is the most important component, and controls two slave systems - the
Phonological Loop and the Visuo Spatial Sketchpad.
The central executive is described as a limited capacity attention system involved in
problem solving and decision making. It has overall control and allocates attention and
directs the operations of planning, shifting information when doing more than one task, and
organising and monitoring our actions.
The phonological loop is described as a temporary control storage system that holds
verbal information in a speech-based form for a brief period. It is primarily concerned with
our perception and production of speech. The phonological loop controls the Phonological
store (inner ear) and allows acoustically coded items to be stored for a brief period. It also
controls the articulatory control process (inner voice) and allows sub-vocal repetition of
the items stored in the phonological store.
The Visuo-spatial sketch pad (inner eye), is responsible for visual spatial coding. It has a
limited capacity and can be divided into the `visual cache' which stores information about
form and colour and the `inner scribe' which deals with spatial and movement information
and allows rehearsal of information in the visual cache and transfers information to the
Researchers today generally agree that short-term memory is made up of a number of
components or sub systems. The WMM explains a lot more than the MSM. It makes sense of
a range of tasks verbal reasoning, comprehension, reading, problem solving and spatial
processing. Also, the model is supported by considerable experimental evidence. There
are several studies where people have to divide their attention between two tasks, for
example saying sequences of numbers out loud while attempting a logical puzzle
(Baddeley & Hitch (1974)). The fact that people are able to do two things at the same time
shows that the Working Memory's model idea that short-tern memory is not just one store,
but is rather several components, must be correct.
The KF case study supports the Working Memory Model. KF suffered brain damage from a
motorcycle accident that damaged his short term memory. KF's impairment affected his
verbal information and his visual information was largely affected this proves that there
are separate STM components for visual information (Visuo-Spatial Sketch pad) and verbal
information (Phonological Loop).
The WMM does however have its weaknesses. One of the weaknesses is that there is little
direct evidence for how the Central executive works and what it does. It is difficult to
understand and almost impossible to devise an experiment to show the Central Executive
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Lieberman criticises the WMM. The Visuo-Spatial Sketch pad implies that all information
was first visual. However, Lieberman points out that blind people have excellent spatial
awareness despite them never having any visual information.
Also, the working memory model only involves STM and so it is not a comprehensive model
of memory as it does not include the sensory memory or long-term memory.…read more