Weaknesses of the working memory model

We’ve recently looked at Baddeley and Hitch’s working memory model, which they first proposed back in 1974 and has been through a few changes since then. For an overview of the working memory model, see this article, and there’s another one looking at the strengths of the model. Here’s a quick look at some of the weaknesses of the model, which mainly revolve around the lack of understanding and depth of the model at present.

Weaknesses of the working memory model

1) The components of the model may as yet be too simple, and do not explain the full range of day-to-day phenomena, for example, some things we’re pretty good at remembering, unless someone starts talking to us while were trying to remember it. Is there any information that is not as prone to decay as it is to interference from competing input?

2) The central executive is poorly understood. Since there are only modest correlations between people on different executive functions, and since some people can lose some executive functions but keep others, it’s highly unlikely that the CE is one unitary construct. Without knowing how the CE is broken down, it’s very difficult to come up with hypotheses to test the model further, and to know how these subsections relate to each other and the other parts of the model. Take verbal rehearsal for example. Does the CE initiate this, monitor it, maintain it? Or is it purely a function of the phonological loop?

3) Researchers do not yet have a detailed understanding of how the episodic buffer combines information from the other parts of the model, and from long-term memory.

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1 Comment

  • Using heuristics and making strange correlations or gestures to things that I’m trying to remember sometimes help. But then there are times when you get so wound up in the silly things that were supposed to help you remember, that you forget the details as to why you were supposed to remember them. For example, back when I was in grade 8 my best friend and I had a hard time trying to remember the final item in a list of scientific… somethings. So we came up with this hand gesture where we would emphasis “Scientific Methods” in order to remember it. It worked for the test, but if you asked me anything about it, I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything more than the hand gesture we used and the way we said the word.

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