Book Definition: The second of three memory stages, and the most limited in capacity. It preserves recently perceived events or experiences for less than a minute without rehearsal.

In Your Own Words


  • The part of your memory in which you hold information right after it has left the sensory memory.
  • Takes information the sensory registers and connects it with items already in long term storage.
  • Also known as short term memory, or STM.
  • Has the capacity to store around 7 items (5 or 9 memories at a time).
  • Encodes information to make it acceptable for long-term storage.

Examples/Functions


  • Learning the name of someone you have just met, and beginning to associate it with the face so that you will recognize them later.
  • Looking up someone's Twitter name on Facebook, and remembering it as you log on to Twitter to follow them.
  • You look at the phone book and for a brief 30 seconds you're able to repeat the number (555)097-1727 in your head.... but then a the next day you don't remember it. Your working memory manipulates the number to allow you to remember it until you need it for the short period of time.
  • Your parents give you a verbal list of household chores, some of which you've never done. They are so tedious that by the time you get to the last one, you cannot remember what you were supposed to do.
  • You try to cram before a test and your memory serves you until about the 5th question.
  • Learning a phone number that you have just looked up.

Additional Resources


  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1736359
  2. http://education.calumet.purdue.edu/vockell/edPsybook/Edpsy6/edpsy6_working.htm
  3. http://www.york.ac.uk/res/wml/AllowayTTC.pdf

Multiple Choice Questions



1. Which of the following is NOT true of working memory?

a) It stores information for 20-30 seconds
b) It encodes information
c) Its biological basic is the cerebral cortex (answer)
d) It is involved in controlling attention
e) It is associated with the "magic number 7"

2. Working memory is associated with all of the following concepts except:

a) Chunking
b) Maintenance Rehearsal
c) Elaborative Rehearsal
d) Repetitive Rehearsal (answer)
e) Central Executive