Category Archives: UNL / Memory

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 So: an OK article, but recognized by everyone (including Baddeley) as out of date.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!

Memory Classics

Read several papers fo rhte first week of a seminar on memory and problem solving.

Tulving argues for the existence of three memory systems: procedural, declarative, and episodic. One might call these explicit, implicit, and self-centric memories. I’d question why three systems: two memory systems is a good approximation for dual processing, multiple memory systems is probably closer to the truth… hacking out unique category for self-centered memories seems like special pleading.

Baddeley goes over his “Working Memory” theory, but this appears to be an earlier version, without an episodic buffer.

Miller reviews his research on working memory’s capacity for 5-9 chunks of information at a time, as well as studies by other authors showing about the same thing. Very interesting, but clearly from an earlier wave of cognitive psychology: he views information processing as very litteral – not analogous to, but the same thing as, information processing in a computer.

Craik and Lockhart go over their old “level of processing” perspective, which rejects the long term memory / short term memory, instead focusing on a very large number of “levels” of memory. Their arguments can be reinterpreted as arguing for an arbitrary number of interactions between System 1 (orientation) and System 2 (decision) in cognition.


Baddeley, A. (2004). Working memory. In D.A. Balota & E.J. Marsh (eds.). Cognitive Psychology, New York, NY: Psychology Press, pp. 139-

Craik, F. & Lockhart, R. (2004). Levels of processing: A framework for memory research. In D.A. Balota & E.J. Marsh (eds.). Cognitive Psychology, New York, NY: Psychology Press. pp. 114- 131.

Miller, G. (2004). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information. In D.A. Balota & E.J. Marsh (eds.). Cognitive Psychology, New York, NY: Psychology Press pp. 2- 18.

Tulving, E. (2004). How many memory systems are there? In D.A. Balota & E.J. Marsh (eds.). Cognitive Psychology, New York, NY: Psychology Press. pp. 362-373.