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Psychol Sci. 2005 Feb;16(2):106-13.

Fractionating working memory: consolidation and maintenance are independent processes.

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Department of Psychology, Wilson Hall, 111 21st Ave. South, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37240-1103, USA.


In the present study, we required subjects to remember simple objects that were masked to interrupt consolidation and allow us to estimate the rate of information accrual in visual working memory. We compared a consolidation-baseline condition with a consolidation-during-maintenance condition in which subjects needed to remember a set of unmasked items and then were shown to-be-remembered masked items. We hypothesized that if the control processes of consolidation and maintenance are performed by common mechanisms, then consolidation should be less efficient when performed during maintenance than when performed alone. However, we found that an identical amount of information was encoded per unit time in the two conditions. These results indicate that working memory consolidation is not slowed by maintenance and suggest a two-step model of encoding in visual working memory.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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