Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Target Article

The Maltese cross: A new simplistic model for memory

Donald E. Broadbenta1

a1 Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford 0X1 3UD, England


This paper puts forward a general framework for thought about human information processing. It is intended to avoid some of the problems of pipeline or stage models of function. At the same time it avoids the snare of supposing a welter of indefinitely many separate processes. The approach is not particularly original, but rather represents the common elements or presuppositions in a number of modern theories. These presuppositions are not usually explicit, however, and making them so reduces the danger of slipping back into earlier modes of thought.

The key point is to distinguish between persisting representations and the processes that translate one representation into another. Various classes or groups of persisting representations can be distinguished by the experimental treatments that interfere with them. In particular, there now seem to be several kinds of short-term or temporary storage, different from each other as well as from longterm memory; the translating processes also have several different modes or kinds. A particularly important aspect of the current position is that a model of this general type no longer requires some external agent to direct and control long sequences of behaviour.