Guest post: Helping Children Overcome Working Memory Problems
Former teacher Jackie Taylor shares her research findings
Having a sharp working memory is essential for success in many areas in life. The working memory (which is part of the short-term memory) is responsible for remembering names, lists, and other information just long enough for us to be able to use that information. There are visual and auditory parts of the working memory that help record the unique kinds of information one can encounter. However, there are many individuals who struggle with the use of their working memory due to the conditions they are managing.
For example, those diagnosed with ADD and ADHD can have difficulties with their working memory, which can make daily interactions and learning challenging. Not having the ability to recall information when needed is especially frustrating for children. At a time where learning is a top focus in life, it is essential for all parts of the memory to be working optimally. Thankfully, recent research has shown that there are certain brain exercises that can be used to improve the working memory for almost anyone.
Why is the working memory so important?
Because the working memory serves the specific function of being a mental “sticky note” (as many experts put it), it is extremely useful in learning. When children are required to learn and store new concepts or remember multi-step instructions, a strong working memory is necessary for success. If a child is struggling with his or her working memory, learning to read, being able to complete math problems, and staying focused become difficult tasks. Although there may be several contributing factors to these kinds of learning challenges, it makes sense to start with improving the working memory.
Research findings on improving working memory
To discover the best ways to boost the working memory, a study was conducted among 136 college students. The students were divided into three separate groups. Two of these groups “received training utilizing different working memory exercises, while the third was given challenging exercises that did not involve working memory exercises.” All members of the three groups were given an EEG at the beginning of the study. At the conclusion of the study (five days of training), it was discovered that students who had used the “dual-n-back” brain training exercise “showed a 30% improvement in their working memory.” In less than one week, these individuals were able to significantly boost their working memory simply by engaging in specific brain exercises.
“Dual-n-back” (DnB) training programs
The study listed above shows the importance of choosing an effective brain training exercise when seeking to improve the working memory. While “dual-n-back” (DnB) training programs are relatively new, they have already demonstrated their effectiveness in this area. Numerous computer-based training programs were developed using this technique, including Brain Workshop and BrainScale.net. These programs can be used by people of all ages to help overcome the challenges of a weak working memory.
Training isn’t everything
When looking to help a child improve his or her working memory, the training by itself is not the only key to success. Instead, there are other elements of support that parents and teachers can provide. Encouraging children to regularly utilize brain training programs, as well as providing positive feedback, can make a major impact on their success. Additionally, consistency is also an essential element in improving the working memory of a child. If these programs aren’t used on a consistent basis, it will take a lot longer to reap the benefits and make a difference in the functioning of the working memory. Therefore, in addition to using proven techniques to enhance the working memory, it is important that parents and teachers provide one-on-one support to achieve the best results.