Neuropsychology of (working) memory: From theory to practice to theory

Roberto Cubelli, Robert H. Logie, Sergio Della Sala

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

Cognitive neuropsychology uses models of cognitive processes to account for the observed patterns of spared and impaired abilities in brain-damaged individuals. In turn, this exercise supports the testing and refinement of theoretical models of human cognition. For the development of such models, the patterns of performance presented by single neuropsychological patients can be as informative as are patterns of performance from studies of cognition in healthy participants. Any conceptual, theoretical model of cognition ought to include explicit and testable predictions as to which pathological profile is expected should a component of the model be impaired. This chapter focuses on the example set of cognitive functions referred to collectively as working memory, and discusses how cognitive neuropsychology has played, and continues to play, a crucial role in the development of the multiple component model of working memory. This model, in turn, has led to significant insights into the specific nature of impairments in working memory following brain damage, as well as new, and theoretically robust forms of neuropsychological cognitive assessment. The authors argue that it is important for cognitive theorists to recognize the heuristic value of neuropsychological observations for theory development, particularly if those observations cannot readily be explained within a given theoretical framework that has been based on studies of healthy individuals. Knowledge and theoretical understanding can advance through responding to challenges as well as confirmation from observed data, and data from studies of brain-damaged individuals can offer an avenue for such advancement. To be fruitful, the relationship between theory and practice has to be reciprocal: from theory to clinical observations and from clinical observations to theory.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMemory in Science for Society
Subtitle of host publicationThere is nothing as practical as a good theory
EditorsRobert Logie, Nelson Cowan, Susan Gathercole, Randall Engle, Zhisheng Wen
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic) 9780191944338
ISBN (Print)9780192849069
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • cognitive neuropsychology
  • working memory
  • cognitive theory
  • multiple component model
  • visuospatial
  • phonological loop


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