Variation in Working Memory

Variation in Working Memory

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Working memory - the ability to keep important information in mind while comprehending, thinking, and acting - varies considerably from person to person and changes dramatically during each person's life. Understanding such individual and developmental differences is crucial because working memory is a major contributor to general intellectual functioning. This volume offers a state-of-the-art, integrative, and comprehensive approach to understanding variation in working memory by presenting explicit, detailed comparisons of the leading theories. It incorporates views from the different research groups that operate on each side of the Atlantic, and covers working-memory research on a wide variety of populations, including healthy adults, children with and without learning difficulties, older adults, and adults and children with neurological disorders. A particular strength of this volume is that each research group explicitly addresses the same set of theoretical questions, from the perspective of both their own theoretical and experimental work and from the perspective of relevant alternative approaches.
Through these questions, each research group considers their overarching theory of working memory, specifies the critical sources of working memory variation according to their theory, reflects on the compatibility of their approach with other approaches, and assesses their contribution to general working memory theory. This shared focus across chapters unifies the volume and highlights the similarities and differences among the various theories. Each chapter includes both a summary of research positions and a detailed discussion of each position. Variation in Working Memory achieves coherence across its chapters, while presenting the entire range of current theoretical and experimental approaches to variation in working memory.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 342 pages
  • 177.8 x 254 x 25.4mm | 725.76g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 57 line illustrations, 5 halftones, and 6 colour photographs
  • 0195168631
  • 9780195168631

Review quote

This book on individual variation in working memory is an excellent collection of chapters by leading investigators, covering key topics in normal adult variation, life span development, and pathology. It appears to be the first collection with this focus on variation in working memory, and it is important for anyone interested in current research on human cognition and brain processes. The book was carefully and insightfully organized and edited by a balanced, very productive team of American and British experts in the field. Nelson Cowan, Curators' Professor, University of Missouri-Columbia Variation in Working Memory is valuable for researches and advanced students in mental ability differences: historically aware, and theory- and data-rich. There is freshness in the variety of approaches to individual differences in working memory. The editors did a very good job of keeping the contributors focused on a well-chosen set of key questions, giving the book a coherence that is often missing in edited volumes. Ian J. Deary, Professor of Differential Psychology, University of Ediburgh A complete understanding of the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying working memory cannot be achieved until we tackle the questions posed in this volume. The authors present a broad range of empirical data and theoretical viewpoints aimed at accounting for observed individual differences in human working memory. Many different aspects of varioation in working memory remain unsolved puzzles, but the ideas put forth in this volume will certainly provide some of the pieces necessary for solving them. If you study working memory, or plan to do so, read this volume from cover to cover. Mark D'Esposito, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of California, Berkeley This is a major acheivement, synthesizing experimental and differential work on working memory and related constructs, such as executive control and attention, through a set of insightful chapters by leading researchers in the field. The prominence of research regarding aging, working memory, and executive control reflects important developments in our understanding of cognitive aging and the central role that working memory research has played in its evolution. Likewise, several chapters provide insights on contemporary work on the neuroscience of working memory and executive control. This book is an important contribution to cognitive psychology and related disciplines, and it should be widely read. Christopher Hertzog, Professor of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology Complex working memory span is able to predict performance on a remarkably wide range of cognitive tasks. This book by a group of outstanding young cognitive psychologists asks the question 'why?' It combines experiemental and correlational approaches to provide an excellent state-of-the-art overview of current progress on this important topic. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in cognitive psychology or individual differences. Alan Baddeley, Professor of Psychology, University of York
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Table of contents

1. Variation in working memory: An introduction; PART I: WORKING MEMORY VARIATION REFLECTING NORMAL INTER- AND INTRA-INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES; 2. Variation in working-memory capacity as variation in executive attention and control; 3. Individual differences in working memory capacity and reasoning ability; 4. Explaining the many varieties of working memory variation: Dual mechanisms of cognitive control; PART II: WORKING MEMORY VARIATION DUE TO NORMAL AND ATYPICAL DEVELOPMENT; 5. Variation in working memory due to normal development; 6. Variation in working memory due to typical and atypical development; 7. Developmental and computational approaches to variation in working memory; 8. Variation in working memory across the life span; PART III: WORKING MEMORY VARIATION DUE TO NORMAL AND PATHOLOGICAL AGING; 9. Inhibitory mechanisms and the control of attention; 10. The executive is central to working memory: Insights from age, performance, and task variations; 11. Specialized verbal working memory for language comprehension
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