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The removal of information from working memory


Lewis-Peacock, Jarrod A; Kessler, Yoav; Oberauer, Klaus (2018). The removal of information from working memory. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1424(1):33-44.

Abstract

What happens to goal-relevant information in working memory after it is no longer needed? Here, we review evidence for a selective removal process that operates on outdated information to limit working memory load and hence facilitates the maintenance of goal-relevant information. Removal alters the representations of irrelevant content so as to reduce access to it, thereby improving access to the remaining relevant content and also facilitating the encoding of new information. Both behavioral and neural evidence support the existence of a removal process that is separate from forgetting due to decay or interference. We discuss the potential mechanisms involved in removal and characterize the time course and duration of the process. In doing so, we propose the existence of two forms of removal: one is temporary, and reversible, which modifies working memory content without impacting content-to-context bindings, and another is permanent, which unbinds the content from its context in working memory (without necessarily impacting long-term forgetting). Finally, we discuss limitations on removal and prescribe conditions for evaluating evidence for or against this process.

Abstract

What happens to goal-relevant information in working memory after it is no longer needed? Here, we review evidence for a selective removal process that operates on outdated information to limit working memory load and hence facilitates the maintenance of goal-relevant information. Removal alters the representations of irrelevant content so as to reduce access to it, thereby improving access to the remaining relevant content and also facilitating the encoding of new information. Both behavioral and neural evidence support the existence of a removal process that is separate from forgetting due to decay or interference. We discuss the potential mechanisms involved in removal and characterize the time course and duration of the process. In doing so, we propose the existence of two forms of removal: one is temporary, and reversible, which modifies working memory content without impacting content-to-context bindings, and another is permanent, which unbinds the content from its context in working memory (without necessarily impacting long-term forgetting). Finally, we discuss limitations on removal and prescribe conditions for evaluating evidence for or against this process.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Neuroscience
Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Social Sciences & Humanities > History and Philosophy of Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, History and Philosophy of Science
Language:English
Date:9 May 2018
Deposited On:16 May 2018 09:32
Last Modified:08 Apr 2020 23:38
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0077-8923
Additional Information:This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: "The removal of information from working memory", which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/nyas.13714.
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/nyas.13714
PubMed ID:29741212
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100014_149193
  • : Project TitleThe Role of Rehearsal in Working Memory

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