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Psychol Rev. 2002 Jan;109(1):35-54; discussion 55-74.

Reassessing working memory: comment on Just and Carpenter (1992) and Waters and Caplan (1996).

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Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, USA.


M. A. Just and P. A. Carpenter's (1992) capacity theory of comprehension posits a linguistic working memory functionally separated from the representation of linguistic knowledge. G. S. Waters and D. Caplan's (1996) critique of this approach retained the notion of a separate working memory. In this article, the authors present an alternative account motivated by a connectionist approach to language comprehension. In their view, processing capacity emerges from network architecture and experience and is not a primitive that can vary independently. Individual differences in comprehension do not stem from variations in a separate working memory capacity; instead they emerge from an interaction of biological factors and language experience. This alternative is argued to provide a superior account of comprehension results previously attributed to a separate working memory capacity.

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