The Working Memory Model was developed by Baddely and Hitch and explains the processes in short term memory only. It comprises of 3 main stores: the central executive, the phonological loop and the visuo-spatial scratchpad.

  • The central executive is responsible for giving attention to information from the other two stores and making decisions about which information is the most important. Rehearsal occurs between the central executive and the other stores.
  • The phonological loop is known as the “inner voice” and holds information in a speech based form; it has a limited capacity.
  • The visuo-spatial scratchpad is known as the “inner eye” and is specialised for spatial and visual coding.

The diagram below illustrates the Working Memory Model:

Research Support for the model (Gathercole and Baddely, 1993)

  • Participants were asked to follow a moving spot of light with a pointer (visuo-spatial scratchpad task).
  • Half were also asked to to describe the angles on a letter ‘F’ (visuo-spatial task) while the other half were asked to perform a verbal task (phonological loop task) at the same time.
  • Participants in the first group found this much harder because they were using the same store for both tasks.
  • The research supports the existence of both the phonological loop and the visuo-spatial scratchpad and the limited capacity of these stores.

Evaluation

  • Strength- much more detailed information about the processes involved in short term memory making it superior to the multi-store model in this respect.
  • Strength- highlights that memory is an active process rather than being passive.
  • Strength- it has a practical application to the real world- dyslexia can affect either the phonological loop or the visuo-spatial scratchpad and therefore strategies can be put into place to help with reading and writing.
  • Weakness- it only looks at short term memory- there is no explanation about how information is transferred between short and long term memory.
  • Weakness- it has highlighted the role of sensory memory but ignored most of the senses- e.g- touch, smell, taste
  • Weakness- very little is known about the decision making activities of the central executive.