Keep It in Mind

Understanding and improving your working memory.

Working Memory and the Classroom

Working memory has also been described as a ‘controller’, a cognitive resource that can keep a goal in mind, bring in cognitive resources from different parts of the brain, and also manage incoming information. Read More

Love this post!

I love this post and what you are doing for people with LD. So much more research needs to be done in this area, and targeted programs for remediation are necessary. I'm a 37 year old adult, and I suspect I may have issues with working memory or dyscalculia. I had an impossible time reading and following notes on a page when we learned the flutophone in elementary school. I would just get lost on the page and had difficulties transferring between the page and the flutophone. I was deeply ashamed, my music teacher recommended I never take up a musical instrument. I always wanted to be able to play, it was just so difficult. I feel the same way when looking at a piano, all the keys look the same, I get lost. When I first learned long division, I struggled with keeping the numbers lined up correctly and I recall my mom getting frustrated with me. Once Algebra came around, forget it. I didn't struggle too much with Spelling, reading or Language Arts. I did well in French. As an adult, I have problems multitasking, making errors, and working quickly and efficiently. I have a tendency to read charts incorrectly, mixing upmth lines. Excel spreadsheets make me nuts!! I always wondered what kind of LD I have and want to get tested. My biggest fear is that I may just have a low iq or something and that would devastate me. Any insights or advice?

Thanks for your comment

Hi Kristen, thanks for your comment and for sharing your story. I am sorry to hear of your difficulties. You mentioned the possibility of getting tested for LD. If you are currently in employment, some employers offer such testing. But I guess the question is whether you feel the issues that you described affects your everyday life. Many people with a diagnosis (whether it is dyslexia or dyscalculia, or something related) often come up with useful strategies to help them. It sounds as if you are aware of situations when this occurs. Perhaps you can make sure that you don't overwhelm your working memory with too much information. That way you can focus your mental resources on a few key things, rather than attempting multiple tasks at the same time. In fact, research supports the idea that very few people can actually multitask efficiently. Instead, working memory works like a spotlight--helping us shift our attention from one task to another. I hope this helps.

testing for working memory

Thank you for this article. I have been wondering how I could help my grandson, who seems to be struggling already in school. I will check out the "jungle" website and try it with him. I had no idea about "working" memory, but it certainly makes sense. I had heard about dyslexia before, but not dyscalculia. I will google it right now.

Is it merely psychological?

I would like to pose this question to you Ms. Alloway, Ph.D given you're probably vey HIPP!!

How often do we say, there is something off and I don't think it's merely psychological ?

Oliver Sacks, in simple terms has written about people with brain abnormalities and conditions functioning in society . Most curious are the cases with seem to go unobserved for quite a while do to a ton of reasons, denial , via our creativity, living in a numb, unobserving world and so on. Often we pigeon whole the problem in various ways as character issues, psychology so on, but how often do we say, I wonder if something is going on with that persons brain or I wonder if something is going on with my brain ?

Another way of looking at it, if you were missing a leg or eyes or anything clearly recognizable, you can say, hey so and so and so on, and people will get it, but telling people you have a learning difference or sensitivity, how often do people say, yes, yes, got it, but their actions remain the same and nothing changes? ..... Or even worst, they make it into something else , see it as an excuse or who knows what else .. Or they just don't want to deal with it or find the patience for it ?

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Tracy Packiam Alloway, Ph.D., is the Director of the Center for Memory and Learning in the Lifespan at the University of Stirling, UK.

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