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Learn Mem. 2007 Jan-Feb;14(1):22-8.

Selective attention is a primary determinant of the relationship between working memory and general learning ability in outbred mice.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854, USA.


A single factor (i.e., general intelligence) can account for much of an individuals' performance across a wide variety of cognitive tests. However, despite this factor's robustness, the underlying process is still a matter of debate. To address this question, we developed a novel battery of learning tasks to assess the general learning abilities (GLAs) of mice. Using this battery, we previously reported a strong relationship between GLA and a task designed to tax working memory capacity (i.e., resistance to competing demands). Here we further explored this relationship by investigating which aspects of working memory (storage or processing) best predict GLAs in mice. We found that a component of working memory, selective attention, correlated with GLA comparably to working memory capacity. However, this relationship was not found for two other components of working memory, short-term memory capacity and duration. These results provide further evidence that variations in aspects of working memory and executive functions covary with general cognitive abilities.

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