Working memory capacity and its relation to general intelligence

Trends Cogn Sci. 2003 Dec;7(12):547-52. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2003.10.005.


Early investigations of working memory capacity (WMC) and reasoning ability suggested that WMC might be the basis of Spearman's g. However, recent work has uncovered details about the basic processes involved in working memory tasks, which has resulted in a more principled approach to task development. As a result, claims now being made about the relation between WMC and g are more cautious. A review of the recent research reveals that WMC and g are indeed highly related, but not identical. Furthermore, WM span tasks involve an executive-control mechanism that is recruited to combat interference and this ability is mediated by portions of the prefrontal cortex. More combined experimental-differential research is needed to understand better the basis of the WMC-g relation.