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Working Memory • Working Memory Does Not Dissociate Between Di fferent Perceptual Categorization Tasks
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Working Memory Does Not Dissociate Between Di fferent Perceptual Categorization Tasks

Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:24 am
by lewan
Full title: Working Memory Does Not Dissociate Between Di fferent Perceptual Categorization Tasks

Journal: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, in press

Authors: Stephan Lewandowsky, Lee-Xieng Yang, Ben R. Newell, & Michael L. Kalish

Contact e-mail: stephan.lewandowsky@uwa.edu.au

Abstract
Working memory is crucial for many higher-level cognitive functions, ranging from mental arithmetic to reasoning and problem solving. Likewise, the ability to learn and categorize novel concepts forms an indispensable part of human cognition. However, very little is known about the relationship between working memory and categorization. This article reports two studies that related people's working memory capacity (WMC) to their learning performance on multiple "rule-based" and "information-integration" perceptual categorization tasks. In both studies, structural equation modeling revealed a strong relationship between WMC and category learning irrespective of the requirement to integrate information across multiple perceptual dimensions. WMC was also uniformly related to people's ability to focus on the most task-appropriate strategy, regardless of whether or not that strategy involved information integration. Contrary to the predictions of the "multiple systems" view of categorization, working memory thus appears to underpin performance in both major classes of perceptual category-learning tasks.