Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Working Memory, Text Comprehension, and Propositional Reasoning: A New Semantic Anaphora WM Test

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Working Memory, Text Comprehension, and Propositional Reasoning: A New Semantic Anaphora WM Test

Article excerpt

The aim of this study was to present a new working memory test following the line of work started by García-Madruga et al. (2007) and to examine its relation to reading comprehension and propositional reasoning measures. In that study we designed a new working memory span test -based on Daneman & Carpenter's (1980) Reading Span Test (RST)- in which the processing task called for an inferential decision -to resolve a pronominal anaphora based on Morpho-Syntactic cues- and had people recall the result of this inference. In the current study, besides the RST and the Morpho-Syntactic Anaphora test, we presented a new Semantic Anaphora measure. In order to check the validity of this new Working Memory (WM) task, we used the same reasoning task used in the previous study as well as a new reading comprehension test. The results show the tight relationship amongst working memory, reading comprehension and reasoning, and confirm the validity of the new WM measure.

Keywords: working memory, reading comprehension, reasoning.

El propósito de este trabajo es presentar una nueva prueba de memoria operativa y examinar su relación con la comprensión lectora y el razonamiento, en la línea comenzada por el estudio de García-Madruga et al. (2007). En ese estudio se diseñó una nueva medida de amplitud de memoria operativa -basada en Reading Span Test (RST) de Daneman & Carpenter (1980)- en la que la tarea de procesamiento exigía la realización de una inferencia -resolver una anáfora pronominal a partir de los rasgos Morfosintácticos- y los participantes debían recordar el resultado de esta inferencia. Además del RST y la prueba de Anáforas Morfosintácticas, en el presente estudio presentamos una nueva medida de Anáforas Semánticas. Para comprobar la validez de esta nueva tarea de Memoria Operativa (MO) hemos utilizado la misma tarea de razonamiento que en el estudio anterior, así como una nueva tarea de comprensión lectora. Los resultados muestran la estrecha relación entre memoria operativa, comprensión lectora y razonamiento, y confirman la validez de la nueva medida de MO.

Palabras clave: memoria operativa, comprensión lectora, razonamiento.

The aim of this study was to present a new working memory test (based on the Daneman & Carpenters' Reading Span Task) and to examine its relationship to reasoning and reading comprehension measures. This new task focuses on increasing the attentional demands of the Central Executive, just like in the line of work started by García-Madruga, Gutiérrez, Carriedo, Luzón and Vila (2005, 2007); (Gutiérrez, García-Madruga, Carriedo, Vila, & Luzón, 2005).

Working Memory is considered a central component of cognition. However, as Barret, Tugade, and Engle (2004) have pointed out, an operational definition of working memory is easier than a conceptual one. From an operational point of view, the consensus is that working memory capacity is the number of items that can be recalled during a complex working memory task. From a conceptual perspective, there is no general agreement about the definition of Working Memory capacity, namely because there are diverse theories that emphasize different aspects of working memory (see Miyake & Shah, 1999). Nevertheless, there is no question that one of the most influential is the Multiple Component Model proposed by Baddeley and Hitch (1974; Baddeley, 2000).

According to this theoretical model, the working memory system is composed of two domain-specific storage structures or slave systems (the phonological loop and the visuo-spatial sketchpad), an episodic buffer that links two prior components with long term memory, and a central executive. The central executive is the main component of the working memory system. It not only has to coordinate the other components, but it is also in charge of the attentional control of information. That is, it has to focus and switch attention, to activate representations, to inhibit automatic processes and to discard irrelevant information (see Baddeley, 2000). …

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