From short-term store to multicomponent working memory: the role of the modal model

Alan David Baddeley, Graham James Hitch, Richard Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The term “modal model” reflects the importance of Atkinson and Shiffrin’s paper in capturing the major developments in the cognitive psychology of memory that were achieved over the previous decade, providing an integrated framework that has formed the basis for many future developments. The fact that it is still the most cited model from that period some 50 years later has, we suggest, implications for the model itself and for theorising in psychology more generally. We review the essential foundations of the model before going on to discuss briefly the way in which one of its components, the short-term store had influenced our own concept of a multicomponent working memory. This is followed by a discussion of recent claims that the concept of a short-term store be replaced by an interpretation in terms of activated long-term memory. We present several reasons to question these proposals. We conclude with a brief discussion of the implications of the longevity of the modal model for styles of theorising in cognitive psychology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575–588
Number of pages14
JournalMemory & Cognition
Issue number4
Early online date26 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2019

Bibliographical note

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • short-term memory
  • working memory
  • modal model
  • ong-term memory
  • philosophy of science

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