University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Guest Lecture: Klaus Oberauer, University of Zurich “What causes the capacity limit of working memory?”

September 12 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Klaus Oberauer of the University of Zurich will be joining us September 12th to give a guest lecture in room 107 from 4 PM-5 PM.

Title: What causes the capacity limit of working memory?


Working memory – the system holding representations available for processing – has a severely limited capacity. What causes this capacity limit? I will review the evidence for the three principal theoretical contenders that vie to explain why and how the capacity of working memory (WM) is limited: Time-based decay, limited resources, and interference. The review will cover two research traditions. In the older tradition, concerned with immediate serial recall of lists (i.e., simple and complex span tasks), decay-based theories and interference-based models are the main contenders. Experimental evidence shows that memory for verbal lists does not decay, whereas an interference model of list memory accounts well for a large range of data. In a more recent tradition, concerned with immediate memory for visual arrays, the theoretical debate concentrates on varieties of discrete and continuous resource models. I will present a new interference-based model of working memory for visual information and show that it performs better than these resource models. In conclusion, principles of interference apply to the main experimental paradigms in both research traditions and go a long way towards explaining the capacity limit of working memory.


September 12
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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