Working memory – what was I going to say?

Do you ever find while you are doing your work a thought comes to mind, but by the time you have finished what you were doing in order to concentrate on that thought, it has disappeared? This happens a lot, especially for those who have dyslexia and dyspraxia. People with dyslexia and dyspraxia often suffer with poor Working Memory. Working Memory is anything that you can keep in your attention and work with at any one time.

For people with a good Working Memory, thoughts enter your consciousness in a much more ordered and controlled way. These thoughts stick around for longer so are easier to use and manipulate. For people with a poor Working Memory this is not the case, thoughts enter your consciousness randomly pushing out current thoughts, but just as quickly as they arrive they disappear.

Think of a room as being your consciousness. Outside this room are lots of people waiting to enter the room. These people represent your thoughts, ideas, information and memories. If your Working Memory is good then this room is bigger so more people can go in at once. They will queue up outside waiting to be called. Once the room is full or they are no longer paid attention to people will start to leave.

If your Working Memory is poor then this room is smaller. However, this does not stop the same amount of people trying to get in, resulting in people randomly having to leave to make room for others. The people outside the room are also a little more chaotic so do not always enter the room in an orderly fashion.

Because of this people with a poor working memory are more likely to forget things, go off on tangents, have random thoughts, and will often find it hard to concentrate on more than one thing at once.  Don’t get me wrong, people with good working memories experience this too, just not so readily.

One thing to bear in mind is that people with dyslexia and dyspraxia are often tested for Working Memory and told theirs is below average, or poor compared with their other skills.  But usually psychologists only test Working Memory for sounds.  The Working Memory for pictures can be excellent.  There are plenty of strategies for transferring things you hear into images and most of the time dyslexics find this easier to remember.

We’ve transferred a lot of our best ideas into an interactive e-learning video.  The video explores this topic in more detail, takes you through a process to work out how your memory works best and then suggests options for strategies.

View the Genius Within e-learning packages