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Changing concepts of working memory

Nature Neuroscience volume 17, pages 347356 (2014) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Working memory is widely considered to be limited in capacity, holding a fixed, small number of items, such as Miller's 'magical number' seven or Cowan's four. It has recently been proposed that working memory might better be conceptualized as a limited resource that is distributed flexibly among all items to be maintained in memory. According to this view, the quality rather than the quantity of working memory representations determines performance. Here we consider behavioral and emerging neural evidence for this proposal.

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Acknowledgements

We thank R. van den Berg for useful discussions and assistance with Figure 5. W.J.M. is supported by award number R01EY020958 from the National Eye Institute and award number W911NF-12-1-0262 from the Army Research Office. P.M.B. and M.H. are supported by the Wellcome Trust.

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Affiliations

  1. Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, New York, USA.

    • Wei Ji Ma
  2. Department of Experimental Psychology and Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

    • Masud Husain
  3. Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK.

    • Paul M Bays
  4. Institute of Cognitive and Brain Sciences, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA.

    • Paul M Bays

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Wei Ji Ma.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3655

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