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A theory of relativity for cognitive elasticity of time and modality dimensions supporting constant working memory capacity : Involvement of harmonics among ultradian clocks?
1. The capacity of working memory (WM) for about 7±2 (the magical number) serially organized simple verbal items may represent a fundamental constant of cognition. Indeed, there is the same capacity for sense of familiarity of a number of recently encountered places, observed in radial maze performance both of lab rats and of humans. 2. Moreover, both species show a peculiar capacity for retaining WM of place over delays. The literature also describes paradoxes of extended time duration in certain human verbal recall tasks. Certain bird species have comparable capacity for delayed recall of about 4 to 8 food caches in a laboratory room. 3. In addition to these paradoxes of the time dimension with WM (still sometimes called short-term memory) there are another set of paradoxes of dimensionality for human judgment of magnitudes, noted by Miller in his classic 1956 paper on the magical number. We are able to reliably refer magnitudes to a rating scale of up to about seven divisions. Remarkably, that finding is largely independent of perceptual modality or even of the extent of a linear interval selected within any given modality. 4. These paradoxes suggest that the magical number 7±2 depends on fundamental properties of mammalian brains. 5. This paper theorizes that WM numerosity is conserved as a fundamental constant, by means of elasticity of cognitive dimensionality, including the temporal pace of arrival of significant items of cognitive information. 6. A conjectural neura
PMID : 10800741 ISSN : 0278-5846 CODEN : PNPPD7
Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry A. 2000, vol. 24, n° 2, pp. 163-182 [bibl. : 3 p.3/4]
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