Skip main navigation
We use cookies to give you a better experience, if that’s ok you can close this message and carry on browsing. For more info read our cookies policy.
We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Working memory networks

Working memory is our ability to make the information in our brain conscious, and it is very limited.

When we first learn a process, we often have to really concentrate to think through the different stages, dealing with a lot of new information to apply what we have just learnt. This places a burden on our working memory.

It has been suggested that our working memory can hold seven items or chunks of information (Miller, 1956), though this is often debated. A chunk is a unit of meaningful information, so what counts as a chunk will vary from person to person depending on their prior knowledge and understanding (Pickering, 2006).

For example, when a child is first learning to read, they need to make sense of individual letters in order to read each word, and this takes up a lot of working memory. But once they are more experienced readers, they can recognise whole words and phrases, and reading takes less effort.

Share this article:

This article is from the free online course:

The Science of Learning

National STEM Learning Centre

Contact FutureLearn for Support