Direct Access to Working Memory Contents

S.E. Bialkova, K. Oberauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract. In two experiments participants held in working memory (WM) three digits in three different colors, and updated individual digits with the results of arithmetic equations presented in one of the colors. In the memory-access condition, a digit from WM had to be used as the first number in the equation; in the no-access condition, complete equations were presented so that no information from WM had to be accessed for the computation. Updating a digit not updated in the preceding step took longer than updating the same digit as in the preceding step, a time difference referred to as object-switch costs. Object-switch costs were equal in access and no-access equations, implying that they did not reflect the time to retrieve a new digit from WM. Access equations were completed as fast as no-access equations, implying that access to information in WM is as fast as reading the same information. No-access equations were slowed by a mismatch between the first digit of the presented equation and the to-be-updated digit in WM, showing that this digit is automatically accessed even when not needed. It is concluded that contents and their contexts form composites in WM that are necessarily accessed together
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-389
JournalExperimental Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • short-term-memory
  • model
  • binding
  • recognition
  • attention


Dive into the research topics of 'Direct Access to Working Memory Contents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this