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Front Psychol. 2013 Jul 24;4:433. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00433. eCollection 2013.

What is working memory capacity, and how can we measure it?

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Department of Psychology, University of Ulm Ulm, Germany.


A latent variable study examined whether different classes of working-memory tasks measure the same general construct of working-memory capacity (WMC). Data from 270 subjects were used to examine the relationship between Binding, Updating, Recall-N-back, and Complex Span tasks, and the relations of WMC with secondary memory measures, indicators of cognitive control from two response-conflict paradigms (Simon task and Eriksen flanker task), and fluid intelligence. Confirmatory factor analyses support the concept of a general WMC factor. Results from structural-equation modeling show negligible relations of WMC with response-conflict resolution, and very strong relations of WMC with secondary memory and fluid intelligence. The findings support the hypothesis that individual differences in WMC reflect the ability to build, maintain and update arbitrary bindings.


binding; cognitive control; fluid intelligence; secondary memory; working memory capacity

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