Modeling individual differences in working memory performance: a source activation account

Cognitive Science 25 (3):315-353 (2001)
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Abstract

Working memory resources are needed for processing and maintenance of information during cognitive tasks. Many models have been developed to capture the effects of limited working memory resources on performance. However, most of these models do not account for the finding that different individuals show different sensitivities to working memory demands, and none of the models predicts individual subjects' patterns of performance. We propose a computational model that accounts for differences in working memory capacity in terms of a quantity called source activation, which is used to maintain goal‐relevant information in an available state. We apply this model to capture the working memory effects of individual subjects at a fine level of detail across two experiments. This, we argue, strengthens the interpretation of source activation as working memory capacity.

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