Lecture Notes in Education
Psychology and Public Media

The Role of Working Memory on Fluid Intelligence


Ning Dai * 1

1 Department of Psychology, Beijing Normal University

Corresponding Author

Ning Dai


attention control, fluid intelligence, storage system, working memory


Previous research proved that working memory is closely related to fluid intelligence, but the role of working memory on fluid intelligence is unclear. This review summarizes previous studies to explore the core mechanism of working memory which have influence on the fluid intelligence. There were the two mechanisms of working memory, storage system and central executive system, associated with fluid intelligence. The storage system is more important and it may mediate the effect of central executive system on fluid intelligence.


Ning Dai. The Role of Working Memory on Fluid Intelligence. LNEP (2021) LNEP ICEIPI 2021: 123-127. DOI: 10.54254/lnep.iceipi.2021181.


[1]: Cattell RB (1963) “Theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence: A critical experiment.” J Educ Psychol (vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 1) https://doi.org/10.1037/h0046743

[2]: Cattell RB (1987) “Intelligence: Its structure, growth and action” Elsevier.

[3]: Tadayon E, Pascual-Leone A, Santarnecchi E (2020) “Differential contribution of cortical thickness, surface area, and gyrification to fluid and crystallized intelligence” Cereb Cortex (vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 215–225) https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhz082

[4]: Ackerman PL, Beier ME, Boyle MO (2005) “Working memory and intelligence: The same or different constructs?” Psychol Bull (vol. 131, no. 1, pp. 30) https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.131.1.30

[5]: Baddeley AD, Hitch G (1974) “Working memory” Psychology of learning and motivation Elsevier, vol. 8 - pp. 47–89.

[6]: Baddeley AD, Allen RJ, Hitch GJ (2011) “Binding in visual working memory: The role of the episodic buffer” Neuropsychologia (vol. 49, no. 6, pp. 1393–1400) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.12.042

[7]: Jastrzębski J, Ciechanowska I, Chuderski A (2018) “The strong link between fluid intelligence and working memory cannot be explained away by strategy use” Intelligence (vol. 66, pp. 44–53) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2017.11.002

[8]: Shelton JT, Elliott EM, Matthews RA, Hill BD, Gouvier WM (2010) “The relationships of working memory, secondary memory, and general fluid intelligence: working memory is special.” J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn (vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 813) https://doi.org/10.1037/a0019046

[9]: Tourva A, Spanoudis G (2020) “Speed of processing, control of processing, working memory and crystallized and fluid intelligence: Evidence for a developmental cascade” Intelligence (vol. 83, pp. 101503) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2020.101503

[10]: Unsworth N, Robison MK (2017) “The importance of arousal for variation in working memory capacity and attention control: A latent variable pupillometry study.” J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn (vol. 43, no. 12, pp. 1962) https://doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000421

[11]: Engle RW (2018) “Working memory and executive attention: A revisit” Perspect Psychol Sci (vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 190–193) https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617720478

[12]: Unsworth N, Fukuda K, Awh E, Vogel EK (2014) “Working memory and fluid intelligence: Capacity, attention control, and secondary memory retrieval” Cognit Psychol (vol. 71, pp. 1–26) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogpsych.2014.01.003

[13]: Barbey AK, Colom R, Paul EJ, Grafman J (2014) “Architecture of fluid intelligence and working memory revealed by lesion mapping” Brain Struct Funct (vol. 219, no. 2, pp. 485–494) https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429- 013-0512-z

[14]: Deary IJ, Batty GD, Gale CR (2008) “Childhood intelligence predicts voter turnout, voting preferences, and political involvement in adulthood: The 1970 British Cohort Study” Intelligence (vol. 36, no. 6, pp. 548–555) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2008.09.001

[15]: Kyttälä M, Lehto JE (2008) “Some factors underlying mathematical performance: The role of visuospatial working memory and non-verbal intelligence” Eur J Psychol Educ (vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 77–94) https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03173141

[16]: Engle RW (2018) “Working memory and executive attention: A revisit” Perspect Psychol Sci (vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 190–193) https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691617720478

[17]: McVay JC, Kane MJ (2012) “Why does working memory capacity predict variation in reading comprehension? On the influence of mind wandering and executive attention.” J Exp Psychol Gen (vol. 141, no. 2, pp. 302) https://doi.org/10.1037/a0025250

[18]: Grol M, Schwenzfeier AK, Stricker J, Booth C, Temple-McCune A, et al. (2018) “The worrying mind in control: An investigation of adaptive working memory training and cognitive bias modification in worry-prone individuals” Behav Res Ther (vol. 103, pp. 1–11) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2018.01.005

[19]: Thomas EH, Myles JB, Tan EJ, Neill E, Carruthers SP, et al. (2019) “Working memory and attention influence antisaccade error rate in schizophrenia” J Int Neuropsychol Soc JINS (vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 174–183) https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355617718001066

[20]: Chen Y, Spagna A, Wu T, Kim TH, Wu Q, et al. (2019) “Testing a cognitive control model of human intelligence” Sci Rep (vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1–17)

[21]: Liesefeld AM, Liesefeld HR, Zimmer HD (2014) “Intercommunication between prefrontal and posterior brain regions for protecting visual working memory from distractor interference” Psychol Sci (vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 325– 333) https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613501170

[22]: Fukuda K, Vogel EK (2011) “Individual differences in recovery time from attentional capture” Psychol Sci (vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 361–368) https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797611398493

[23]: Feldmann-Wüstefeld T, Vogel EK (2019) “Neural evidence for the contribution of active suppression during working memory filtering” Cereb Cortex (vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 529–543) https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhx336

[24]: Fukuda K, Vogel E, Mayr U, Awh E (2010) “Quantity, not quality: The relationship between fluid intelligence and working memory capacity” Psychon Bull Rev (vol. 17, no. 5, pp. 673–679) https://doi.org/10.3758/17.5.673

[25]: Shipstead Z, Redick TS, Hicks KL, Engle RW (2012) “The scope and control of attention as separate aspects of working memory” Memory (vol. 20, no. 6, pp. 608–628) https://doi.org/10.1080/09658211.2012.691519

[26]: Cowan N, Elliott EM, Saults JS, Morey CC, Mattox S, et al. (2005) “On the capacity of attention: Its estimation and its role in working memory and cognitive aptitudes” Cognit Psychol (vol. 51, no. 1, pp. 42–100) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cogpsych.2004.12.001

[27]: Luck SJ, Vogel EK (1997) “The capacity of visual working memory for features and conjunctions” Nature (vol. 390, no. 6657, pp. 279–281) https://doi.org/10.1038/36846

[28]: Chuderski A, Taraday M, Nęcka E, Smoleń T (2012) “Storage capacity explains fluid intelligence but executive control does not” Intelligence (vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 278–295) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2012.02.010

[29]: Shipstead Z, Lindsey DR, Marshall RL, Engle RW (2014) “The mechanisms of working memory capacity: Primary memory, secondary memory, and attention control” J Mem Lang (vol. 72, pp. 116–141) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2014.01.004

[30]: Vergauwe E, von Bastian CC, Kostova R, Morey CC (n.d.) “Storage and processing in working memory: A single, domain-general resource explains multi-tasking”

[31]: Berger EM, Fehr E, Hermes H, Schunk D, Winkel K (2020) “The impact of working memory training on children’s cognitive and noncognitive skills” NHH Dept Econ Discuss Pap (no. 09, )

[32]: Sala G, Gobet F (2020) “Working memory training in typically developing children: A multilevel meta-analysis” Psychon Bull Rev (pp. 1–12)

Copyright © 2021 Eliwise Academy. Unless Otherwise Stated