Working memory: theories, models, and controversies

Annu Rev Psychol. 2012;63:1-29. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-100422. Epub 2011 Sep 27.


I present an account of the origins and development of the multicomponent approach to working memory, making a distinction between the overall theoretical framework, which has remained relatively stable, and the attempts to build more specific models within this framework. I follow this with a brief discussion of alternative models and their relationship to the framework. I conclude with speculations on further developments and a comment on the value of attempting to apply models and theories beyond the laboratory studies on which they are typically based.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Executive Function / physiology
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Psychological Theory*