The Development of Memory and Processing Capacity

G.S. Halford, Murray Maybery, A.W. O'Hare, P. Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


The assumption of some developmental theories that short-term memory is the workspace of higher cognitive processes, and consequently that span measures processing capacity, is claimed to be inconsistent with the working memory literature. 4 experiments, using children aged 5 to 12 years, contrast this theory with a model in which short-term memory and the processing space component of working memory are at least partly distinct. Experiments 1 and 2 varied processing load, holding duration constant. The processing load manipulation had little effect on recall of a short-term memory preload. Experiments 3 and 4 failed to support the prediction that the greater processing efficiency of older children would be associated with slower loss of information from short-term memory. Although counting and rehearsal rates increased with age, and correlated with span, they did not predict the rate of loss of memory preload due to intervening counting. The data suggest that effects obtained with short-term memory span do not provide clear indications of overall working memory development, because short-term memory span and the processing space component of working memory entail distinct systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1338-1356
JournalChild Development
Publication statusPublished - 1994


Dive into the research topics of 'The Development of Memory and Processing Capacity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this