Schematic Processing in Working Memory Tasks Relies on Learning and Long-Term Memory Resources

Abstract

This paper presents an evidence for involvement of long-term memory (LTM) resources along volatile memory (VM) resources in active management of information in a working memory (WM) task that features schematic processing of WM content. It was observed that in rehearsing frequently changing WM items in a self-paced concurrent-counting task when subjects learn and use a fixed rehearsing order across different episodes of the task they make significantly less error compared to when they adopt different rehearsing order for different episodes. This finding suggests that while retaining information in this task practically draws on volatile resources such as the phonological loop (PL), access to the corresponding item in WM relies on learning and retaining data structures in LTM. It is discussed that in this role learning and LTM resources help render schematic access to episodic information stored in less structured storage units such as PL.


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