working memory

noun
|Updated on: 19 May 2018

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

Recent Examples of working memory from the Web

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.

First Known Use of working memory

1980

in the meaning defined above

See Words from the same year
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Medical Dictionary

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-RakicScientific AmericanSeptember 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. FosterNew Scientist3 Dec. 2011

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