Working Memory in Writing: Empirical Evidence From the Dual-Task Technique

Olive, Thierry (2003) Working Memory in Writing: Empirical Evidence From the Dual-Task Technique. [Preprint]

Full text available as:



The dual-task paradigm recently played a major role in understanding the role of working memory in writing. By reviewing recent findings in this field of research, this article highlights how the use of the dual-task technique allowed studying processing and short-term storage functions of working memory involved in writing. With respect to processing functions of working memory (namely, attentional and executive functions), studies investigated resources allocation, step-by-step management and parallel coordination of the writing processes. With respect to short-term storage in working memory, experiments mainly attempted to test Kellogg's (1996) proposals on the relationship between the writing processes and the slave systems of working memory. It is concluded that the dual-task technique revealed fruitful in understanding the relationship between writing and working memory.

Item Type:Preprint
Keywords:writing, working memory, attention, processing demands, dual-task, writing processes, text composition, triple-task,
Subjects:Psychology > Psycholinguistics
Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
ID Code:3246
Deposited By:Olive, Thierry
Deposited On:24 Oct 2003
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:55

References in Article

Select the SEEK icon to attempt to find the referenced article. If it does not appear to be in cogprints you will be forwarded to the paracite service. Poorly formated references will probably not work.

Alamargot, D. & Chanquoy, L. (2001). Though the models of writing. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Andrade, J. (Ed.) (2001). Working memory in perspective. Hove: Psychology Press.

Atkinson, R. C. & Shiffrin, R. M. (1968). Human memory. In K. W. Spence (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and theory (pp. 89-195). New York: Academic Press.

Baddeley, A. D. (1986). Working memory. New York: Oxford University Press.

Baddeley, A. D. (1996). Exploring the central executive. The quarterly Journal of Experimental psychology, 49A (1), 5-28.

Baddeley, A. (2000). The episodic buffer: a new component of working memory? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 417-423.

Baddeley A. D. (2001). Is working memory still working? American Psychologist, 56, 849-864.

Baddeley, A. D. & Hitch, G. (1974). Working memory. In G. H. Bower (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation (pp. 47-90). New York: Academic Press.

Baddeley, A. D. & Hitch, G. (2001). Working memory in perspective: Foreword. In J. Andrade (Ed.), Working memory in perspective (pp. XV-XIX). Hove: Psychology Press.

Berninger, V. W. & Swanson, H. L. (1994). Modifying Hayes and Flower’s model of skilled writing to explain beginning and developing writing. In E. C. Butterfield (vol. Ed.), Advances in cognition and educational practice, Vol. 2. Children's writing: Toward a process theory of the development of skilled writing (pp. 57-81). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Bock, J. K. & Levelt, W. (1994). Language production: Grammatical encoding. In M. A. Gernsbacher (Ed.) Handbook of Psycholinguistics (pp. 945-984). San Diego: Academic Press.

Brown, T. L. & Carr, T. H. (1989). Automaticity in skill acquisition: mecanisms for reducing interference in concurrent performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 14, 45-59.

Caplan, D. & Waters, G. S. (1999). Verbal working memory and sentence comprehension. Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 22, 77-126.

Cocchini, G., Logie, R. H., Della Sara, S., MacPherson, S. e., & Baddeley, A. D. (2002). Concurrent performance of two memory tasks: evidence for domain specific working memory systems. Memory & Cognition, 30, 1086-1095.

Cowan, N. (2001). The magical number 4 in short-term memory: a reconsideration of mental storage. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24 (1), 87-185.

Fayol, M. (1997). Des idées au texte. Psychologie cognitive de la production verbale, orale et écrite. Paris : PUF.

Fayol, M. (1999). From on-line management problems to strategies in written production. In M. Torrance & G. Jeffery (Eds), Cognitive demands of writing. Processing capacity and working memory effects in text production (pp. 13-24). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Fisk, A. D., Derrick, W. L. & Schneider, W. (1986-87). A methodological assessment and evaluation of dual-task paradigms. Current Psychological Research & Reviews, 5, 315-327.

Gathercole, S. E. & Baddeley, A. (1993). Working memory and language. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Hayes, J. R. & Gradwohl Nash, J. (1996). On the nature of planning in writing. In C. M. Levy & S. E. Ransdell (Eds.). The science of writing: Theories, methods, individual differences and applications (pp. 29-55). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Howe, M. L. & Rabinowitz, F. M. (1989). On the uninterpretability of Dual-task performance. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 47, 32-38.

Humphrey, D. G., & Kramer, A. F. (1994). Toward a psychophysiological assessment of dynamic changes in mental workload. Human Factors, 36, 3-26.

Jarrold, C., Baddeley, A. D., & Hewes, A. K. (1999). Genetically dissociated components of working memory: evidence from Down's and Williams syndrome. Neuropsychologia, 37, 637-651.

Just, M. A. & Carpenter, P. A. (1992). A capacity theory of comprehension: Individual differences in working memory. Psychological Review, 99, 122-149.

Kahneman, D. (1973). Attention and effort. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Kellogg, R. T. (1987). Effects of topic knowledge on the allocation of processing time and cognitive effort to writing processes. Memory & Cognition, 15, 256-266.

Kellogg, R. T. (1988). Attentional overload and writing performance: Effects of rough draft and outline strategies. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 14, 355-365.

Kellogg, R. T. (1993). Observations on the psychology and thinking of writing. Composition studies, 21, 3-41.

Kellogg, R. T. (1996). A model of working memory in writing. In C. M. Levy & S. E. Ransdell (Eds), The science of writing (pp. 57-71). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Kellogg, R. T. (2001). Long-term working memory in text production. Memory & Cognition, 29 (1), 43-52.

Kellogg, R. T. (2001). Competition for working memory among writing processes. American Journal of Psychology, 114 (2), 175-192.

Kellogg, R. T., Olive, T., & Piolat, A. (in press). Verbal and visual working memory in written sentence production. In D. Galbraith & M. Torrance (Eds.), Basic processes in writing. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Kellogg, R. T. & Mueller, S. (1993). Performance amplification and process restructuring in computer-based writing. Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 39, 33-49.

Kerr, B. (1973). Processing demands during mental operations. Memory and Cognition, 1, 401-412.

Levy, C. M. & Ransdell, S. E. (1995). Is writing as difficult as it seems ? Memory and Cognition, 23 (6), 767-779.

Levy, C. M. & Ransdell, S. (2001). Writing with concurrent memory loads. In T. Olive & C. M. Levy (Eds), Contemporary tools and techniques for studying writing (pp. 9-30). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Logie, R. H. (1995). Visuospatial working memory. Hove, U.K.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Madigan, R. J., Johnson, S. E. & Linton, P. W. (1994). Working memory capacity and the writing process. Paper presented at the American Psychological Society, Washington. DC.

Marek, J.P. & Levy, C. M., (1999). Testing the role of the phonologocal loop in writing. In M. Torrance & G. Jeffery (Eds.), Cognitive demands of writing. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

McCutchen, D. (1996). A capacity theory of writing: working memory in text composition. Educational Psychology Review, 8, 299-235.

Myake, A. & Shah, P. (Eds.) (1999). Models of Working Memory: Mechanisms of Active Maintenance and Executive Control. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Norman, D.A. & Shallice, T. (1986). Attention to action : wiled and automatic control of behavior. In R.J. Davidson, G.E. Schwarts, & D. Shapiro (Eds.), Consciousness and self-regulation. Advances in research and theory, Vol. 4, (pp. 1-18). New York: Plenum Press.

Olive, T. & Kellogg, R. T. (2002). Concurrent activation of high- and low-level production processes in written composition. Memory & Cognition, 30 (4), 594-600.

Olive, T., Kellogg R. T., & Piolat, A. (2001). The triple-task technique for studying the process of writing. In T. Olive & C. M. Levy (Eds), Contemporary tools and techniques for studying writing (pp. 31-58). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Olive, T. & Piolat, A. (2002). Suppressing visual feedback in written composition: Effects on processing demands and coordination of the writing processes. International Journal of Psychology, 37 (4), 209-218.

Olive, T., Piolat, A., & Polge, M. (1997, August). An evaluation of mental effort of professional and experienced writers during the use of a word processor. Paper presented at the 7th European Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction. Athens, Greece.

Olive, T., Piolat, A., & Roussey J.-Y. (1997a). Effort cognitif et mobilisation des processus en production de texte : Effet de l’habileté rédactionnelle et du niveau de connaissances. In D. Mellier & A. Vam Hoffe (Eds). Attention et contrôle cognitif : Mécanismes, développement des habiletés, pathologies (pp. 71-85). Rouen: Publications de l’Université de Rouen.

Passerault, J.-M. & Dinet, J. (2000). The role of visuospatial sketchpad in the written production of descriptive and argumentative texts. Current Psychology Letters: Behavior, Brain & Cognition, 3, 31-42.

Penningroth, S.L. & Rosenberg, S. (1995). Effects of a high information-processing load on the writing process and the story written. Applied Psycholinguistics, 16, 189-210.

Piolat, A. & Fruttero, L. (1998). Effects of memory span on cognitive load and composing strategies related to writing processes. In E. Esperet & M.-F. Crété (Eds.), Proceedings of the 1998 Writing Conference (pp. 385-390). Poitiers: MSHS, Université de Poitiers.

Piolat, A. & Olive, T. (2000). Comment étudier le coût et le déroulement de la rédaction de textes ? La méthode de triple-tâche : un bilan méthodologique. L’Année Psychologique, 100, 465-502.

Piolat, A., Olive, T., Roussey, J.-Y., Thunin, O. & Ziegler, J. C. (1999). Scriptkell : a computer assisted tool for measuring the relative distribution of time and cogntive effort in writing and other tasks. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 31 (1), 113-121.

Piolat, A., Roussey, J.-Y., & Rous, P. (October, 1996). Effects of attention directed to different texts on the mental effort related to writing processes. Graphic presentation at the 1996 European Writing Conferences, Barcelone, Spain.

Posner, M. I. (1978). Chronometric explorations of mind. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Power, M. J. (1986). A technique for measuring processing load during speech production. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 15, 367-385.

Schneider, W. & Shiffrin, R. M. (1977). Controlled and automatic human information processing: I. Detection, search, and attention. Psychological Review, 84 (1), 1-66.

Smith, E. E. & Jonides, J. (1997). Working memory: a view from neuroimaging. Cognitive Psychology, 33, 5-42.

Swanson, H. L. & Berninger, V. W. (1996). Individual differences in children's working memory and writing skill. Journal of experimental Psychology, 63 (2), 358-385.


Repository Staff Only: item control page