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 At this scale, a supercomputer would likely need terabytes of working memory just to store the model. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Deep Learning breakthrough made by Rice University scientists," 13 Dec. 2019 Sensory and working memory are so limited, learners need to allocate their resources to important information as selectively as possible and with minimal distraction. Amina Youssef-shalala, Quartz, "Three ways to trick your memory into working better," 12 Oct. 2019 Studies have linked dark chocolate, which is high in antioxidant compounds known as flavanoids, to improvements in working memory and better blood flow to the brain. Samantha Cassetty, NBC News, "The MIND diet: 11 foods to eat to keep your brain healthy," 22 Nov. 2019 None of these factors explained the relation between working memory capacity and decline in problem severity. David Z. Hambrick, Scientific American, "How Research on Working Memory Can Improve Your Romantic Relationship," 5 Nov. 2019 Eight bits make a byte; the active working memory of a typical smartphone might employ something like 2 gigabytes, or two times 8 billion bits. Dennis Overbye, New York Times, "Quantum Computing Is Coming, Bit by Qubit," 21 Oct. 2019 That timeline could be of use not just to episodic memory in the hippocampus, but to working memory in the prefrontal cortex and conditioning responses in the striatum. Jordana Cepelewicz, WIRED, "How the Brain Keeps Its Memories in the Right Order," 17 Feb. 2019 Her mother, a sculptor, was murdered by the Memory Police, who regularly round up and disappear the few islanders who still have working memories, and her late father was an ornithologist. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, "How “The Memory Police” Makes You See," 6 Nov. 2019 Your working memory can only hold a limited number of bits of information at any given time. Amina Youssef-shalala, Quartz, "Three ways to trick your memory into working better," 12 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for working memory

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The first known use of working memory was in 1980

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Statistics for working memory

Last Updated

29 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Working memory.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/working%20memory. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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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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