working memory

noun

Definition of working memory 

: memory that involves storing, focusing attention on, and manipulating information for a relatively short period of time (such as a few seconds) A simple activity involving working memory is the carry-over operation in mental arithmetic, which requires temporarily storing a string of numbers and holding the sum of one addition in mind while calculating the next.— Patricia S. Goldman-Rakic Your short-term memory might help you to remember what someone has just said to you, for example, but your working memory would allow you to recite it to them backwards or pick out the first letter of each word.— Jonathan K. Foster — compare long-term memory, short-term memory

Examples of working memory in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Some studies have shown some video games and apps can improve working memory, fluid intelligence [problem-solving], and multitasking skills. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Is our constant use of digital technologies affecting our brain health? We asked 11 experts.," 29 Nov. 2018 Free apps targeting working memory and other skills are described at the University of California, Riverside’s Brain Game Center. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "The Science Behind Making Your Child Smarter," 24 Dec. 2018 According to the research, subjects with a phone nearby perform significantly worse on measures of attention, working memory and fluid intelligence than those whose phones were in another room. Shlomo Benartzi, WSJ, "The High Financial Price of Our Short Attention Spans," 21 Oct. 2018 Conveniently, working memory can be measured at two years of age. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Inflammation is bad, including for those in the womb," 12 Apr. 2018 Some of the neural consequences may be the same, too: A 2012 study suggests that the effects of excessive online game-playing on working memory may be similar to those observed in patients addicted to drugs or alcohol. Melissa Healy, Washington Post, "World Health Organization says video game addiction is a disease. Why American psychiatrists don’t," 2 July 2018 Sometimes the number of squares fell below their working memory capacity, sometimes above. Jordana Cepelewicz, WIRED, "When Overtaxed Working Memory Knocks Your Brain Out of Sync," 9 June 2018 Some of the neural consequences may be the same too: A 2012 study suggests that the effects of excessive online game-playing on working memory may be similar to those observed in patients addicted to drugs or alcohol. Melissa Healy, ajc, "World Health Organization says video game addiction is a disease," 20 June 2018 Last month, a study published in the journal Appetite concluded that regularly chowing down on the dark stuff leads to better cognitive brain function — including stronger working memory, spatial organization, and reasoning skills. Maria Carter, Woman's Day, "Researchers Say Eating Chocolate Every Day Can Have Serious Health Benefits," 17 July 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'working memory.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of working memory

1980, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

13 Jan 2019

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The first known use of working memory was in 1980

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More Definitions for working memory

working memory

noun

Medical Definition of working memory 

: memory that involves storing, focusing attention on, and manipulating information for a relatively short period of time (such as a few seconds) A simple activity involving working memory is the carry-over operation in mental arithmetic, which requires temporarily storing a string of numbers and holding the sum of one addition in mind while calculating the next.— Patricia S. Goldman-Rakic, Scientific American, September 1992 Your short-term memory might help you to remember what someone has just said to you, for example, but your working memory would allow you to recite it to them backwards or pick out the first letter of each word.— Jonathan K. Foster, New Scientist, 3 Dec. 2011

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