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Reading and Working Memory

Alan Baddeley

During the 1960s there was a dramatic increase in the amount of both experimental and theoretical work devoted to the topic of short-term memory. The field had become enormously complicated, so in an attempt to clarify this increasingly complex picture, Graham Hitch and I decided to ask the simple question 'What is short term memory for?' A wide range of cognitive tasks require the manipulation of information, and this in itself demands temporary storage, so short-term memory was assumed to provide the storage. Thus it was assumed to play a central role in such important cognitive skills as reading and reasoning. There was however virtually no direct evidence in support of this widely held view. We therefore decided to collect such evidence.

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