The ability to keep working memory content up to date is vital for a number of higher cognitive functions such as navigation and reasoning, but it is also crucial for the effective operation of working memory itself. Removing outdated or irrelevant information allows focused processing of relevant information, and minimizes interference. We present evidence from three experiments that (1) people utilize an active removal process to update working memory, (2) that this removal process is an item-specific operation, and (3) that updating subsets of information held in working memory involves switching between maintenance and updating modes of working memory.
- Executive function
- Working memory