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Understanding the limits of working-memory capacity

University of Zurich

1 or 2 semesters

The capacity of working memory is limited, and this limit constrains all forms of deliberate complex cognition

Project description

The capacity of working memory is limited, and this limit constrains all forms of deliberate complex cognition, such as reasoning, text comprehension, and learning. The main goal of the project is to understand why working-memory capacity is limited. Within this project, several sub-projects ask specific questions, such as: Do representations in working memory decay over time? What role does rehearsal play in maintaining information in working memory? What is the role of attention for maintenance? To what degree does interference between representations contribute to the capacity limit? How does interference in working memory work? How is working memory related to executive functions (a.k.a. cognitive control)? How can specific aspects of working memory functioning be measured? Students can contribute to any of these specific projects, and many more.

The project is available in  the Fall and Spring semester and is also open for undergraduate students who recently graduated and for graduate students.

Number of places available: 2 per semester.

Pre requisites

  • Strong interest in behavioral research, good foundation in statistics.

Faculty Department

The Department of Psychology is one of the largest in Europe, covering all sub-disciplines of psychology. Within the Department, the Cognitive Psychology Lab investigates the limits of cognitive abilities. Our leading question is: Why are we not smarter than we are? The main focus of our research is working memory, but we also study reasoning, attention, and cognitive control. We use a combination of behavioral experiments, individual-differences studies, and computational modeling of cognitive processes.

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