A matter of priorities: High working memory enables (slightly) superior value-directed remembering

Michael L. Griffin, Aaron S. Benjamin, Lili Sahakyan, Sarah E. Stanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People with larger working memory capacity exhibit enhanced free recall. One explanation for this relationship is that the strategies that people bring to the task of learning and retrieving are superior in learners with high working memory. There is ample evidence that learners with high working memory do indeed bring better strategies to both encoding and retrieval, but as yet little evidence of whether higher working memory is related to greater effectiveness in prioritizing information across materials that differ in value. Using the value-directed remembering paradigm of Castel, Benjamin, Watkins, and Craik (2002), we examined whether learners with high working memory capacity show a particular advantage in remembering materials that are of high value. Across four experiments, we found that high working memory capacity led to a selective preference for remembering high-valued word pairs, but the effect was very modest and does not provide a complete picture of the relationship between working memory and recall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104032
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Cued recall
  • Value-directed remembering
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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