Book chapters will be unavailable on Saturday 24th August between 8am-12pm BST. This is for essential maintenance which will provide improved performance going forwards. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.
Working memory refers to actively holding information in mind during a relatively short period of time, typically seconds (see Chapter 1). Like most long-term memory paradigms, working memory paradigms consist of a study phase, a delay period, and a test phase. During working memory paradigms, information is actively kept in mind during the delay period. Working memory is an explicit process as its contents dominate conscious experience. Working memory has been associated with activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the parietal cortex, and sensory processing regions. Thus, the regions associated with working memory are similar to those associated with long-term memory (see Chapter 3), with the notable absence of medial temporal lobe regions such as the hippocampus. Section 6.1 of this chapter details the brain regions that store the contents of working memory during the delay period. It has long been thought that the contents of working memory are stored in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, but more recent evidence indicates that storage also takes place in early sensory cortical regions such as V1. In section 6.2, the evidence is evaluated that claims to link working memory with the hippocampus. In section 6.3, brain activity associated with working memory that oscillates at particular frequencies is considered, which includes alpha activity and gamma activity. This also mirrors the findings of long-term memory (see Chapter 4), except for the lack of working memory theta activity. Finally, in section 6.4, changes in brain activity are highlighted that have been linked to training-related increases in working memory capacity. These findings suggest that extensive training (e.g., multiple times a week for many weeks) on working memory tasks can produce long-term improvements in behavioral performance, change the way the brain functions for a period well beyond the time of training, and perhaps even increase intelligence.