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Prog Brain Res. 2008;169:323-38. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(07)00020-9.

What are the differences between long-term, short-term, and working memory?

Author information

1
Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, 18 McAlester Hall, Columbia, MO 65211, USA. CowanN@missouri.edu

Abstract

In the recent literature there has been considerable confusion about the three types of memory: long-term, short-term, and working memory. This chapter strives to reduce that confusion and makes up-to-date assessments of these types of memory. Long- and short-term memory could differ in two fundamental ways, with only short-term memory demonstrating (1) temporal decay and (2) chunk capacity limits. Both properties of short-term memory are still controversial but the current literature is rather encouraging regarding the existence of both decay and capacity limits. Working memory has been conceived and defined in three different, slightly discrepant ways: as short-term memory applied to cognitive tasks, as a multi-component system that holds and manipulates information in short-term memory, and as the use of attention to manage short-term memory. Regardless of the definition, there are some measures of memory in the short term that seem routine and do not correlate well with cognitive aptitudes and other measures (those usually identified with the term "working memory") that seem more attention demanding and do correlate well with these aptitudes. The evidence is evaluated and placed within a theoretical framework depicted in Fig. 1.

PMID:
18394484
PMCID:
PMC2657600
DOI:
10.1016/S0079-6123(07)00020-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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