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Theorizing and measuring working memory in first and second language research

  • Zhisheng Wen (a1)

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Working memory (WM) generally refers to the human ability to temporarily maintain and manipulate a limited amount of information in immediate consciousness when carrying out complex cognitive tasks such as problem-solving and language comprehension. Though much controversy has surrounded the WM concept since its inception by Baddeley & Hitch (1974), an increasing number of cognitive psychologists have accepted WM as a multi-component system comprising both domain-specific storage mechanisms and domain-general executive functions (Miyake & Shah 1999; Baddeley 2012; Williams 2012). Such a fractionated view of this cognitive construct manifests itself clearly in distinct strands of WM-language research, where two contrasting research paradigms have emerged (Wen 2012).

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Baddeley, A. D. (2012). Working memory: Theories, models and controversies. Annual Review of Psychology 63, 130.
Engel de Abreu, P. M. J. & Gathercole, S. E. (2012). Executive and phonological processes in second language acquisition. Journal of Educational Psychology 104, 974986.
Kail, R. & Hall, L. K. (2001). Distinguishing short-term memory from working memory. Memory & Cognition 29, 19.
Wen, Z. (2012). Working memory and second language learning. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 22, 122.

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