Working memory development: A 50-year assessment of research and underlying theories
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The author has thought about working memory, not always by that name, since 1969 and has conducted research on its infant and child development since the same year that the seminal work of Baddeley and Hitch (1974) was published. The present article assesses how the field of working memory development has been influenced since those years by major theoretical perspectives: empiricism (along with behaviorism), nativism (along with modularity), cognitivism (along with constructivism), and dynamic systems theory. The field has not fully discussed the point that these theoretical perspectives have helped to shape different kinds of proposed working memory systems, which in turn have deeply influenced what is researched and how it is researched. Here I discuss that mapping of theoretical viewpoints onto assumptions about working memory and trace the influence of this mapping on the field of working memory development. I illustrate where these influences have led in my own developmental research program over the years.