Asked by NataliaPsychology 🧠

Bob can search through family photos on his laptop and listen to music. At the same time, he finds it difficult to read his emails when talking to a friend on the phone. Use your knowledge of the working memory model to explain this?

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Felicia Jones

I am an experienced tutor, having taught over 25 students, ranging from ages 11-18 in a number of subjects.

The central executive is responsible for allocating processing resources to the two slave systems. It is the most important component of working memory and its dysfunction is often implicated in many neurological disorders. The phonological loop is an auditory short-term memory. It is a loop because it can store and repeat sound (either the inner voice or inner ear) for a limited period of around 20-30 seconds. It has two subcomponents, a phonological store and articulatory control process. The phonological store is the inner ear and contains snippets of sounds either from the outside world or recalled from long-term memory. The articulatory control process is the inner voice which essentially is our own voice inside our heads - imagine working out a maths problem and hearing your own voice speaking and manipulating the numbers over and over again. The visuospatial sketchpad is visual short-term memory or the inner eye. It can manipulate images in two and three dimensions, for example, you can recall a friend’s face from long-term memory in two dimensions and you can imagine walking around the kitchen in your house in three dimensions. Having separate slave systems explains how people are able to perform two tasks at the same time (one visuospatial and one phonological), and accounts for patients who have a reduced digit span (damage to the phonological loop) but a normal visual short-term memory. There must be an imbalance between Bob's two slave systems; Bob's articulatory control process is not as strong compared to his phonological loop, which relies on long-term memory.

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