Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Central Executive

  • Nicole C. R. McLaughlinEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1883


Working memory (WM) has been defined as the “blackboard of the mind” and the “mental sketchpad” (Baddeley 1986). It enables the online holding and mental manipulation of information. Human beings use WM processes all the time. For example, WM is used to perform rapid mathematical functions in our heads and to understand the inherent meaning in speech and writing. WM is also important for reasoning and problem solving (Baddeley 1999). Psychologists have posited several types of memory in the intact human mind. Although philosophers have long been theorizing about distinctions within memory, there has been experimental evidence supporting the divisions of memory for only the past 30–40 years (Baddeley 1999).

Historical Background

Baddeley and Hitch ( 1974) developed a theory of a WM system that has become the dominant theory in cognitive psychology for the organization of WM (Fig. 1). Baddeley’s model addressed weaknesses of previous short-term memory (STM) models, including...
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Butler Hospital Alpert Medical School of Brown UniversityProvidenceUSA