When Memory Forgets to Work


Have you ever wandered into a room, only to wonder why you were there? Or were about to say something and forgot what it was? These are examples of how your working memory operates.

Unlike short term memory, working memory deals with the ability to hold a thought while the brain processes a more complex task.  Working memory affects our ability to think and learn. If you are unable to hold a thought for long enough to attend to the task, then ultimately you cannot complete it.

Working memory deficits have emerged as a major contributor to learning difficulties, which is why children with poor working memory struggle at school. Typically, Children with poor working memory capacity become overloaded whilst completing academic tasks as they struggle to keep track of important information. Over time, these frequent missed learning opportunities amount to slow educational progress and poor learning outcomes.

Some simple strategies to support students with working memory difficulties include chunking units of work into smaller, more manageable tasks, limiting the length of verbal instructions, establishing routines and minimising distractions. Encourage the use of checklists and visual aides to support learning and always acknowledge and reinforce focussed behaviour.

Until fairly recently, poor working memory was considered to be unchangeable, however, the latest neuroscience research shows that working memory capacity can be increased, or made to work more efficiently.

Cogmed is an evidence-based program developed by a neuroscientist. It is computer based and uses different exercises over a period of 5 weeks to train working memory in 25 training sessions. Training is cumulative and follows the user in a way that makes things simpler when an exercise gets too difficult. When the user advances, the exercises automatically get more difficult. A lot of the training is about repeating different sequences over and over again. A good training environment and motivation are critical. The program is completed at home with regular contact from a coach to motivate and give feedback.

Cogmed Working Memory training program is suitable for adults as well as children. For further information about working memory difficulties or Cogmed please contact Ann at Richardson Education on 97870820.


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