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

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 Speaking is perhaps a baby's most important milestone and is tied to later cognition and working memory. Erik Vance, Scientific American, "Sorry, Mom and Dad, Toys Cannot Supercharge Your Baby," 15 May 2018 This part of the brain is associated with speech comprehension and production, working memory and cognitive flexibility, said Naomichi Ogihara, a mechanical engineer at Keio University in Yokohama, Japan, who worked on the study. Deborah Netburn, latimes.com, "The shape, not size, of our ancestors' brains may have helped them outlast Neanderthals," 27 Apr. 2018 It can be associated with depression, mood or conduct disorders, substance abuse, and difficulties with executive function and working memory in adults. courant.com, "ADHD Drug Use Rises Sharply Among Young Women," 1 Mar. 2018

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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20 Oct 2018

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The first known use of working memory was in 1980

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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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