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Working Memory Capacity: Limits on the Bandwidth of Cognition

Author(s): Miller, Earl K.; Buschman, Timothy J.

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Abstract: Why can your brain store a lifetime of experiences but process only a few thoughts at once? In this article we discuss “cognitive capacity” (the number of items that can be held “in mind” simultaneously) and suggest that the limit is inherent to processing based on oscillatory brain rhythms, or “brain waves,” which may regulate neural communication. Neurons that “hum” together temporarily “wire” together, allowing the brain to form and re-form networks on the fly, which may explain a hallmark of intelligence and cognition: mental flexibility. But this comes at a cost; only a small number of thoughts can fit into each wave. This explains why you should never talk on a mobile phone when driving.
Publication Date: Jan-2015
Citation: Miller, Earl K, Buschman, Timothy J. (2015). Working Memory Capacity: Limits on the Bandwidth of Cognition. Daedalus, 144 (1), 112 - 122. doi:10.1162/DAED_a_00320
DOI: doi:10.1162/DAED_a_00320
ISSN: 0011-5266
EISSN: 1548-6192
Pages: 112 - 122
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Daedalus
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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