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Research Article

Declarative and Procedural Working Memory: Common Principles, Common Capacity Limits?

Author:

Klus Oberauer

University of Zurich, SZ
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Abstract

Working memory is often described as a system for simultaneous storage and processing. Much research – and most measures of working-memory capacity – focus on the storage component only, that is, people's ability to recall or recognize items after short retention intervals. The mechanisms of processing information are studied in a separate research tradition, concerned with the selection and control of actions in simple choice situations, dual-task constellations, or task-switching setups. both research traditions investigate performance based on representations that are temporarily maintained in an active, highly accessible state, and constrained by capacity limits. In this article an integrated theoretical framework of declarative and procedural working memory is presented that relates the two domains of research to each other. Declarative working memory is proposed to hold representations available for processing (including recall and recognition), whereas procedural working memory holds representations that control processing (i. e., task sets, stimulus-response mappings, and executive control settings). The framework motivates two hypotheses: Declarative and procedural working memory have separate capacity limits, and they operate by analogous principles. The framework also suggests a new characterization of executive functions as the subset of processes governed by procedural working memory that has as its output a change in the conditions of operation of the working-memory system.
How to Cite: Oberauer, K., (2010). Declarative and Procedural Working Memory: Common Principles, Common Capacity Limits?. Psychologica Belgica. 50(3-4), pp.277–308. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb-50-3-4-277
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Published on 01 Oct 2010.
Peer Reviewed

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