Working Memory and Language Laboratory
What is Working Memory?
Working memory refers to the ability to remember information for short periods of time in order to solve a problem or accomplish a task. Remembering a list of ingredients while navigating the grocery store, following the steps of a recipe, and converting fractions for a double-batch of cookies all require working memory. Working memory isn't only useful for cooking. It's used whenever you have to figure out something new, and it supports long-term learning.
Why is Language Important to Working Memory?
Working memory is important for making sense of language. We can only hear or read words one-at-a-time. Therefore, we must hold onto the words—and their order—while simultaneously creating meaning and thinking about our own response. Children with hearing loss must especially rely on working memory. Because the auditory signal they get is sometimes ambiguous, children with hearing loss often problem-solve to work out the meaning of what they hear.
The Development of "Self-Talk" as a Memory Strategy
It is common for adults to talk to themselves when they need to remember something. When an adult silently says the same word or phrase over and over in an attempt to commit it to memory, we call this rehearsal. Unfortunately, we know much less about how and when children rehearse. In this project, we measure how children's rehearsal changes as the memory task gets harder. We also want to know how children's use of rehearsal changes over time. This project is funded by a NIH Centers for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant (NIH-NIGMS / 5P20GM109023-04).
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