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Trends Cogn Sci. 2000 Nov 1;4(11):417-423.

The episodic buffer: a new component of working memory?

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Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, 8 Woodland Road, BS8 1TN. tel: + 44 117 928 8541 fax: +44 117 926 8562, Bristol, UK


In 1974, Baddeley and Hitch proposed a three-component model of working memory. Over the years, this has been successful in giving an integrated account not only of data from normal adults, but also neuropsychological, developmental and neuroimaging data. There are, however, a number of phenomena that are not readily captured by the original model. These are outlined here and a fourth component to the model, the episodic buffer, is proposed. It comprises a limited capacity system that provides temporary storage of information held in a multimodal code, which is capable of binding information from the subsidiary systems, and from long-term memory, into a unitary episodic representation. Conscious awareness is assumed to be the principal mode of retrieval from the buffer. The revised model differs from the old principally in focussing attention on the processes of integrating information, rather than on the isolation of the subsystems. In doing so, it provides a better basis for tackling the more complex aspects of executive control in working memory.


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