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A sub-process view of working memory capacity: Evidence from effects of speech on prose memory

In this article we outline a “sub-process view” of working memory capacity (WMC). This view suggests that any relationship between WMC and another construct (e.g., reading comprehension) is actually a relationship with a specific part of the WMC construct. The parts, called sub-processes, are functionally distinct and can be measured by intrusion errors in WMC tasks. Since the sub-processes are functionally distinct, some sub-process may be related to a certain phenomenon, whereas another sub-process is related to other phenomena. In two experiments we show that a sub-process (measured by immediate/current-list intrusions) is related to the effects of speech on prose memory (semantic auditory distraction), whereas another sub-process (measured by delayed/prior-list intrusions), known for its contribution to reading comprehension, is not. In Experiment 2 we developed a new WMC task called “size-comparison span” and found that the relationship between WMC and semantic auditory distraction is actually a relationship with a sub-process measured by current-list intrusions in our new task.

from Memory