How Does Processing Affect Storage in Working Memory Tasks? Evidence for Both Domain-General and Domain-Specific Effects

Christopher Jarrold, Helen Tam, Alan D. Baddeley, Caroline E. Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Two studies that examine whether the forgetting caused by the processing demands of working memory tasks is domain-general or domain-specific are presented. In each, separate groups of adult participants were asked to carry out either verbal or nonverbal operations on exactly the same processing materials while maintaining verbal storage items. The imposition of verbal processing tended to produce greater forgetting even though verbal processing operations took no longer to complete than did nonverbal processing operations. However, nonverbal processing did cause forgetting relative to baseline control conditions, and evidence from the timing of individuals' processing responses suggests that individuals in both processing groups slowed their responses in order to "refresh" the memoranda. Taken together the data suggest that processing has a domain-general effect on working memory performance by impeding refreshment of memoranda but can also cause effects that appear domain-specific and that result from either blocking of rehearsal or interference.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)688-705
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

Structured keywords

  • Memory

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