Working memory--the ability to keep important information in mind while comprehending, thinking, and acting--varies considerably from person to person and changes dramatically during each person's life. Understanding such individual and developmental differences is crucial because working memory is a major contributor to general intellectual functioning. This volume offers a state-of-the-art, integrative, and comprehensive approach to understanding variation in working memory by presenting explicit, detailed comparisons of the leading theories. It incorporates views from the different research groups that operate on each (...) side of the Atlantic, and covers working-memory research on a wide variety of populations, including healthy adults, children with and without learning difficulties, older adults, and adults and children with neurological disorders. A particular strength of this volume is that each research group explicitly addresses the same set of theoretical questions, from the perspective of both their own theoretical and experimental work and from the perspective of relevant alternative approaches. Through these questions, each research group considers their overarching theory of working memory, specifies the critical sources of working memory variation according to their theory, reflects on the compatibility of their approach with other approaches, and assesses their contribution to general working memory theory. This shared focus across chapters unifies the volume and highlights the similarities and differences among the various theories. Each chapter includes both a summary of research positions and a detailed discussion of each position. Variation in Working Memory achieves coherence across its chapters, while presenting the entire range of current theoretical and experimental approaches to variation in working memory. (shrink)
Caplan & Waters's arguments for separate working memory subsystems for “interpretive” and “post-interpretive” comprehension processes do not have a solid empirical basis. The likely involvement of a separate phonological loop makes their memory-load data irrelevant to theory evaluation, and the lack of statistical power from nonoptimal experimental designs and analyses unfairly reduces the chances of detecting the relevant interactions.