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Working Memory
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Working Memory

What is it that enables us to track where we are and what we are doing in the present, to make a decision, send an email, or recall a name we just heard?  Working memory.  When we perceive something we activate stored knowledge that is then sent to, stored, and manipulated in working memory.

There has been increasing interest in the concept of working memory - which is active and broader than short term memory - since the first theoretical model for working memory was published by Alan Baddeley and G. Hitch in 1974 to explain cognitive functions.  Robert H. Logie says in his 1999 article, State of the Art: Working Memry, "The contents of working memory can be combined with stored knowledge and manipulated, interpreted and recombined to develop new knowledge, assist learning, form goals, and support interaction with the physical world".

The working memory characteristics of mental manipulation and development of new knowledge are critical for creative thinking and are now frequently described as "mental discovery". (Roskos-Ewoldsen at al 1993.)  Mental discovery means that we can "see" things in a different context and create something new.  Mental discoveries appear to be a basic characteristic of normal human mental functioning.

If we are interested in developing our thinking capability and creativity, the understanding and application of working memory can be an important starting point.

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