What Is Working Memory

Working memory is defined as a process in the working of the brain. It relates to management of the information that is reaching the brain and getting stored. The information that has been received has to be properly analyzed so as to make it useful for the learning process for the person. There are different activities in the brain and working memory is only one of them. The capacity of working memory can be indicated by its memory span. The research on the subject has been going on for several decades and the current thinking is based on conclusions arrived at during the last 50 years.

Recalling data almost instantaneously when required, is an attribute ascribed to working memory. The general explanation is to compare the functioning to that of the computer even though the comparison should be the other way round. Essentially, it is command which brings stored information for use when required and after use, store it again for use whenever needed. The person possessing this memory is able to perform this function in amateur of few seconds, without having to put an extra effort for achieving it.

Typically working memory or short term memory can be the ability for remembering numbers in a serial order irrespective of the number of digits contained in the number. Ordinary people can easily remember phone numbers, the numbers of the telephone, credit card etc. The person with working memory can remember numbers having more digits. There are people who can remember numbers even with 15digits or more and can express them without any hesitation.

Different theories are presented to explain the functioning of working memory. One of these is called multi component model. In this theory, there is one central system coordinating other sub systems. These sub systems work to store data that will be used regularly such as doing routine work. These sub systems area activated by the central control. The sub systems ensure that stored data is retrieved when required and put back safely to be retrieved again if need arise.  Recent approaches have added another element to this model making it more comprehensive.

This new component is called episodic buffer that is essentially an organizer for qualifying the stored data, retrieving it when needed and storing it again, this way, the brain is enabled to manage simultaneously several types of data. The tasks are accomplished much faster and much better also. The information stored is not confined to one particular data but also several other fields associated with it. With more and more research going in to it functioning of the brain different methods are being devised for improving the memory capacity of the brain and also to prevent its loss due to aging.

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