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Working Memory Difficulties

What is your Working Memory?

Working memory is one of the brain's executive functions. It's the ability to hold on to new information so we can turn around and use it in some way. Working memory allows us to hold information without losing track of what we're doing. Working memory is a cognitive system with a limited capacity that can hold information temporarily. Working memory is important for reasoning and the guidance of decision-making and behaviour.


What is a Working Memory Difficulty?

Poor working memory affects approximately 15% of children. It is characterized by inattentive, distractible behaviour that is accompanied by failures to complete everyday activities that require focused or sustained attention.

Typically, children with poor working memory have normal social integration, normal levels of emotional control, and self-esteem. They may appear reserved in large group situations. Over 80% of children with low working memory struggle in reading and mathematics, and it has been suggested that they are likely to be those children who make poor academic progress.


Causes of Working Memory Difficulty

It seems likely that the inattentiveness of children with poor working memory arises because the children lose the crucial information needed to guide the ongoing activity, and so shift attention away from the task in hand.


Signs of Working Memory Difficulty

Poor working memory profile

  • Normal social relationships with peers
  • Reserved in group activities
  • Poor academic progress in reading and maths
  • Difficulties in following instructions
  • Problems with learning activities that require both storage and processing
  • Place-keeping difficulties
  • Appears to be inattentive, to have short attention span, and to be distractible 


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