The Working Memory Model

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The Working Memory Model

Baddely and Hitch (1974) suggested the idea of the Working Memory Model to replace the concept of a unitary STM. It proposes a multi-component, flexible system concerned with active processing and short term storage of information.

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Central Executive

The central executive is involved in problem solving and decision making.


  • Controls attention and plays a major role in planning and synthesising information from other systems and LTM.
  • Flexible, can process information from any modality.
  • limited storage capacity so can attend to a limited number of things at a time.
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Phonological Loop

Stores a limited number of speech-based sound for brief periods.

It consists of two components:

  • Phonological Store (inner ear) - allows acoustically coded items to be stored.
  • Articulatory Control Process ( inner voice) - allows sub-vocal repetition of items that are stored in the phonological store. Articulatory suppression: repeating an irrelevant sound that is irrelevant to the task. This prevents the phonological loop from retaining any more information.

In Baddely et al.'s word-length studies, when participants were asked to repeat an irrelevant sound, word-length effect disappeared - articulatory suppression.

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Visuo-Spatial Scratch Pad (inner eye)

Stores visual and spatial information. It sets up and manipulates mental images.

Baddely et al. gave participants a simple tracking task (holding a pointer in contact with a moving spot of light) while they performed an imagery task. Participants found it very difficult to do these two tasks at the same time.

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Episodic Buffer

Integrates and manipulates material in the working memory.


  • Limited capacity depending on executive processing.
  • Integrates information from different sources into chunks or episodes.
  • Integrates material from LTM.
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Strengths and Weaknesses of the Working Memory Mod


  • Explains our ability to carry out tasks like mental arithmetic.
  • Evidence supporting phonological loop.
  • Evidence supporting the visuo-spatial scratch pad.
  • Still expanding.


  • Little information is known about the central executive.
  • No explanation to how we remember other senses.
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