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Trends Cogn Sci. 2007 Jun;11(6):236-42. Epub 2007 May 1.

Separating cognitive capacity from knowledge: a new hypothesis.

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Griffith University, Mt Gravatt campus, 170 Kessels Road, Nathan, QLD 4111, Australia.


We propose that working memory and reasoning share related capacity limits. These limits are quantified in terms of the number of items that can be kept active in working memory, and the number of interrelationships between elements that can be kept active in reasoning. The latter defines the complexity of reasoning problems and the processing loads they impose. Principled procedures for measuring, controlling or limiting recoding and other strategies for reducing memory and processing loads have opened up new research opportunities, and yielded orderly quantification of capacity limits in both memory and reasoning. We argue that both types of limit might be based on the limited ability to form and preserve bindings between elements in memory.

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