Individual differences in working memory

C Jarrold, JN Towse

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

162 Citations (Scopus)


Working memory can be defined as the ability to hold in mind information in the face of potentially interfering distraction in order to guide behavior. The experimental manipulation of working memory tasks has shed considerable light on the probable structure of the human working memory system, and, to a lesser extent, the specific processes captured by working memory paradigms. However, individual differences research has also had a crucial role to play in the development of theories of working memory. In particular, correlational approaches have been particularly informative in three areas of working memory research, each of which is reviewed here. These are, first, the importance of working memory measures as correlates of high-level cognitive skills such as reading, mathematics, reasoning, and fluid intelligence; second, the extent to which human working memory relies on domain-general or domain-specific component subsystems, and third, the precise reasons why working memory measures do relate to other important indices of human cognitive functioning. The findings from each of these areas suggest that working memory depends on a combination of domain-specific representational systems and domain-general processing and control systems, and that working memory measures capture individuals’ ability to combine maintenance and processing demands in a manner that limits information loss from forgetting or distraction.
Translated title of the contributionIndividual differences in working memory
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39 - 50
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Elsevier

Structured keywords

  • Developmental (Psychological Science)


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