Working Memory and Orientation

Three articles this week on working memory.

Three articles today: “Am Embedded-Processes Model of Working Memory” by Nelson Cowan, “Working Memory: The Multiple-Component Model” by Alan D. Baddeley and Robert H. Logie, and “Modeling Working Memory in a Unified Architecture: The ACT-R Perspective” by Marsha C. Lovett, Lynne M. Reder, and Christian Lebiere.

The ACT-R paper (Lovett, et al) is not very relevent to what I am doing. It continues the attempt to apply literal information processing theory to human thinking, in the tradition of George Willer and nowadays of John Robert Anderson. ACT-R, like the other theories, is perhaps better for building a computer that works in ways analogous to the brain rather than understanding the brain itself.

The Baddeley piece was assigned to set the stage for the episode buffer, which he covered in his Nature Reviews Neuroscience article I read a bit ago. So: an OK article, but recognized by everyone (including Baddeley) as out of date.

What was really exciting was Nelson’s Cowan “embedded” working memory model, which is actually a dual processing model. Excitingly, it appears to date from the same time as Boyd’s final presentation, and even includes orientation! An excerpt:

THe focus of attention is controlled conjointly by voluntary processes (a central executive system) and involuntary processes) the attentional orienting system.)

All of this is exciting to read this morning, especially as this afternoon I present the OODA loop as a “Dual-Processing Theory of Learning” to some colleagues today. Talk about neat!

2 thoughts on “Working Memory and Orientation”

  1. May wish to consider something else from the mid-1970s: the Rete algorithm, which appears to borrow the term “working memory” from cognitive psychology. Used in expert systems and rule engines, it's the repository where facts may be asserted, retracted, and of course pattern-matched.

    I sure do miss the Cold War. ;-

  2. Stephen Pampinella,

    Thanks for the good wishes! It went well! My adviser was especially interested in the initial results of the blogging survey (we're thinking of a round 2…)


    Ah, yeah — I remember Rete. Back when I earned my Masters in Computer Science, we had do step through the Rete process in the seminar on AI.

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