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Things to Know About Limited Working Memory

Have you seen results from the study of three thousand children, saying that ten percent of those children suffered from poor working memory seriously affecting their learning?  Experts say that poor working memory (and lack of knowledge about how to work with it) is behind many school problems.  

Poor working memory is often associated with ADHD and dyslexia. Some experts, such as Rosemary Tannen, PhD,  psychologist and psychiatry professor at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, think that poor working memory might actually be responsible for some of the symptoms of ADHD:

"It could be that working-memory problems give rise to observable behavioral symptoms of ADHD: distractibility and also poor academic achievement," says Tannen.

But if you have poor working memory, you're not necessarily stuck with it. Several studies have shown that anybody, and ADHD or dyslexia children in particular, can benefit significantly from practicing to improve their poor working memory.  

Another fMRI study showed that computer training helped working memory of children with dyslexia as well.  And many products have been developed to help you practice your memory.

Sharpbrains.com has a free report on digital tools used to assess and treat working memory.

In closing, I'm looking for a product for my son that can help him exercise and develop his working memory.  We tried the Nintendo Brain Age program but have found that basically ANY of the Japanese programs are absolutely terrible for a child with developmental hiccups of any sort. Why?  In the Wii, for example, if you get a poor grade on something, the character becomes gradually more and more depressed until … I am not sure if I remember this correctly, but … I think they might actually BOO at you.

Now picture your dyslexic child doing the balance exercises on the Wii and failing because his brain doesn't do this stuff easily.  How would YOUR child react to being essentially told he's a loser by the software?  

For my American child, it was a no go.  And I have found that the jovial "you're SUCH a loser, dude!" approach from Japanese products is prohibitive.  So we'll be looking into other producers.  I'll let you know what I find.


2 comments to Things to Know About Limited Working Memory

  • My guess is that poor working memory may also be related to problems experienced by myself and other dyslexics in tracking the flow of time.
    This is one of the standard list of problems associated with dyslexia. However, the flip side is that it does enable you to exist in the moment with considerable intensity. This might not seem useful for a child in school. But for a creative artist or sports person it may be fundamental to high achievement.
    This isn’t based on rigerous research. However, it is my personal experience, and I have observed it in other adult dyslexics.
    All the best.

  • Thanks Rod. Look at the followup posting: Smart people with limited working memory http://budurl.com/h8wr, and the discussion of diffuse attention. I find personally that the older I get (and unless driven by a paycheck) I have apparently developed “diffuse attention” now too, so I can relate to my kid! So what is it that you do in life, and how do you cope? I’m also researching the various online games for working on memory. BTW, at least two Web sites offer free programs for working out working memory: http://www.memorise.org/memoryGym.htm and http://www.easysurf.us/menu.htm. Cheers! Thanks for helping to start some discussions on this stuff as I try to help my kid!

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