Working Memory Depletion Effect


Collaborative project funded by the French Research Agency (ANR PRC)
From the 01-02-2021 to the 31-01-2025 (4 years)
Funding: 390k€

Project leader: André Tricot (Professor, Univ. Montpellier)

WM-RDE – Working memory resource depletion in academic learning: An integrated approach


In the last 30 years, many studies have shown that the optimization of working memory (WM) resources is a key factor in academic learning success. In educational psychology, cognitive load theory has shown (based on several thousand published experiments) that decreasing cognitive load in WM could lead to a learning rise (see Sweller, van Merriënboer, & Paas, 2019). Recent works in this area have shown that WM resources can be depleted during a learning task (Chen et al., 2018; Leahy & Sweller, 2019). Sweller and colleagues found that students performed better at a WM test after a less demanding task than when the same test was completed immediately after a very demanding and time-consuming task. These authors thus introduce a new, dynamic variable in the field of WM resource optimization for learning: The depletion of these resources. While they are insightful, these papers do not answer important questions: What is getting depleted? Due to what mechanisms? How is this depletion recovered? How long does it take? The aim of the WM-RDE project is to investigate WM resource depletion effect by considering the Time- Based Resources Sharing model (TBRS; Barrouillet & Camos, 2015). The TBRS model allows simple and straightforward predictions about cognitive load in WM, as well as about the solicited resource (controlled attention), and about the causes of this resource depletion (the temporal sharing of controlled attention between the processing devoted to refreshing memory traces and the processing devoted to new items).

The team

– André Tricot, Professor at Univ. Montpellier (project leader)
– Pom Charras, Ass. Professor at Univ. Montpellier
– Elisabeth Fonteneau, Engineer at Univ. Montpellier
– Florence Lespiau, Ass. Professor at Univ. Nîmes
– Sébastien Puma, Ass. Professor at Univ. Cergy Paris
– Stéphanie Roussel, Ass. Professor at Univ. Bordeaux
– Michel Audiffren, Professor at Univ. Poitiers
– Nathalie André, Ass. Professor at Univ. Poitiers
– Abdelrhani Benraïss, Ass. Professor at Univ. Poitiers
– Dominique Bellec, Teacher, Rectorat de Poitiers
– Rémi Capa, Ass. Professor, Univ. Toulouse Jean Jaurès

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