Working Memory Is A Cognitive Process Composed Of Multiple Components: Annotated Bibliography Research Paper, UCC, Ireland

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University University College Cork (UCC)
Subject Annotated Bibliography


Working memory is a cognitive process “composed of multiple components whose coordinated activity is responsible for the temporary storage and manipulation of information” (Alloway and Alloway 2010, p.20).  In recent years it has been a growth area of research within the field of cognitive psychology and neuroscience.

During my undergraduate studies in psychology, I was particularly interested in research and development within the field of cognitive neuroscience.  One of the first lectures within cognitive neuroscience concerned the foundational ‘multicomponent model’ of working memory by Baddeley and Hitch (1974). The article ‘Working Memory’ by Baddeley and Hitch (1974), remains the ‘source document’ for much of this recent work, and the ‘multicomponent model’ together with the later developments to the model are still referenced within much of the working memory research.

My theme for this assignment revolves around the possibility of integrating the findings of academic studies related to working memory within the field of educational practice.  It will concern the development of accurate diagnostic tools for the early detection of low working memory capacity, and also the potential pedagogic benefit of applying effective working memory training to those children so diagnosed at an early stage in their educational progress.

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In particular, an ambition of much current work in the area relates to the development of ‘cognitive e-learning systems’ (Fernàndez-Molina et al. 2015; Cogmed Working Memory 2014), whereby a range of accessible, accurate, and effective computerized working memory training software might eventually be made available for use both within and outside the classroom.

Annotated Bibliographies:

 Baddeley, A. (2010)‘Working Memory’,Current Biology,vol. 20, no.4, pp.136–140.

This article, writtenby one of the authors of the source document,summarises and reviewsthe development of research in relation to working memory over the last thirty years.  Itmakes use of Baddeley’s own‘multicomponent model’(Baddeley, 1974,2007)and evaluates it in comparison to other influential models and theories of working memory(WM) within the field.The main conclusionis that Baddeley’s own model remains the most durable and useful framework for continuing to investigate the operation of WM, due primarily to its simplicity and adaptability.

In particular Baddeley reviews developments in relation to two topics associated with his model that have been a focus of development, controversy and application over the period in question.  Most relevantly, by reviewing the evidential basis for a correlation between the “study of individual differences in working memory capacity” (Baddeley 2010, p.137) and the ‘executive control’ aspect of his own multicomponent model, the author notes a potentially positive relation between individual performance on certain working memory tests and more general measures of cognition related to academic performance; including the performance of the types of reasoning tasks implicated in success at more established intelligence (IQ) tests.

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The paper thus provides a fundamental theoretical basis for other research directed towards the development of various WM based assessments and interventions aimed at enabling teachers to identify children potentially at risk of experiencing academic difficulties at an earlier stage; e.g. Gathercole et al. (2006).

The author performed a pioneering role in the development of early research into ‘working memory’(Baddeley and Hitch 1974).  The possibility of potential bias deriving from time, publications and reputation based on his pioneering contribution cannot be discounted, therefore, particularly in relation to his assessment of the continuing relevance of his own model.This article appears in a well-respected and peer-reviewedjournalof original research published by Elsevier Inc..

 Gathercole, S.E., Lamont, E. and Alloway, T.P.(2006)Working memory in the classroom, Working memory and education, pp.219-240.

The main aim of thisarticle is to begin to ‘bridge the gap’ (ibid p. 223) between educational practice and the scientific foundations of research in WM byinvestigating the role ofWM in the performance of cognitive tasks central to the process of learning in the classroom setting.

The study itself consists of a limited observational study of three 5/6 year old boys with previously diagnosed poor working memory skills, who were each observed during their normal classroom activitiesfor the duration of three or four days.  The main findingssuggest that children with poor working memory are disadvantaged in terms of their ability to deal with the frequently heavy working memory demandsassociated with the majority of classroom activities, and that this commonly manifests in failures relating to theforgetting of “instructions, losing place in complex tasks, and struggling in tasks that involved both processing and storage loads” (ibid, p.238).

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