Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Researchers have been able to link working memory to many important cognitive abilities throughout the life span. Two of the unanswered questions about working memory are what cognitive processes function during working memory task performance and how do these processes directly relate to intelligence? A recent model (Unsworth & Engle, 2006) suggested that performance on working memory tasks was determined by two abilities: the capacity of primary memory and the ability to efficiently retrieve information from secondary memory. In the current study, we extended Unsworth and Engle’s (2006) methodology to include two groups of children (ages 8-9 and 10-11). Our goals were to identify the developmental trajectory of primary and secondary memory and also to examine whether these abilities predict fluid intelligence in the same way that has been found in adults. By including scope of attention measures, which are theoretically similar to measures of primary memory, we were able to differentiate between Cowan et al.’s (2005) predictions concerning the relationship between primary memory and intelligence and Unsworth and Engle’s (2006) findings regarding this relationship. Primary memory was higher in adults than in the child groups, but secondary memory did not have many differences between the age groups. We did not find strong support for Unsworth and Engle’s (2006) model of primary and secondary memory in children, but we did show evidence that the scope of attention was an important predictor of intelligence and shared variance with working memory task performance in both the youngest age group and the adult group.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Elliott, Emily



Included in

Psychology Commons