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Nelson Cowan (born March 7, 1951) is the Curators' Professor of Psychology at the University of Missouri. He specializes in working memory, and posits an integrated model of working memory in which representations held in working memory are an activated subset of the representations held in long-term memory. In Cowan's model, working memory is organized in two embedded levels, the first of which consists of an unlimited set of long-term memory representations that are activated, and the second of which, called the focus of attention, is capacity limited and holds up to four of the activated representations. Cowan received a B.A. from the University of Michigan in neuroscience in 1973 and an M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in 1977 and 1980, respectively, after which he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at New York University. He subsequently was hired as a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1982, and in 1985, he joined the faculty of the University of Missouri, where he has remained since. Additionally, Cowan has served as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Helsinki, the University of Leipzig, the University of Western Australia, and the University of Bristol.
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