Working Memory Capacity and Categorization: Individual Differences and Modeling

Stephan Lewandowsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

52 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Working memory is crucial for many higher-level cognitive functions, ranging from mental arithmetic to reasoning and problem solving. Likewise, the ability to learn and categorize novel concepts forms an indispensable part of human cognition. However, very little is known about the relationship between working memory and categorization, and modeling in category learning has thus far been largely uninformed by knowledge about people's memory processes. This article reports a large study (N = 113) that related people's working memory capacity (WMC) to their category-learning performance using the 6 problem types of Shepard, Hovland, and Jenkins (1961). Structural equation modeling revealed a strong relationship between WMC and category learning, with a single latent variable accommodating performance on all 6 problems. A model of categorization (the Attention Learning COVEring map, ALCOVE; Kruschke, 1992) was fit to the individual data and a single latent variable was sufficient to capture the variation among associative learning parameters across all problems. The data and modeling suggest that working memory mediates category learning across a broad range of tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)720-738
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Volume37
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

Structured keywords

  • Memory

Keywords

  • categorization
  • working memory
  • computational models
  • individual differences
  • CATEGORY-LEARNING-SYSTEMS
  • PERCEPTUAL CATEGORIZATION
  • EXECUTIVE ATTENTION
  • TASK INTERFERENCE
  • BOOLEAN CONCEPTS
  • DIFFUSION-MODEL
  • AGE-DIFFERENCES
  • OPERATION SPAN
  • JENKINS 1961
  • KNOWLEDGE

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