How Can I Improve Working Memory?

Page Coleman

A number of techniques may help you improve working memory. Certain brain training programs can help increase this information storage capacity. Reducing distractions, focusing attention, chunking information, and certain medications may also help. Physical exercise and reducing stress can also be beneficial. Working memory is associated with greater problem solving ability and improved school performance, so it is well worth enhancing.

Concentrating on information being received can help improve memory.
Concentrating on information being received can help improve memory.

Brain training programs are available specifically to help improve working memory. One type of training is known as “n-back.” In n-back training, the participant is presented with a series of stimuli, such as letters of the alphabet. The training develops information recall regarding how many stimuli back in the series a particular letter was presented. N-back training can improve your overall cognition.

People who practice meditation often find it easier to focus, improving their memory.
People who practice meditation often find it easier to focus, improving their memory.

Another way to improve your working memory is to reduce distractions and disruptions. Remove clutter, turn off the television or radio, and shut down email. Try to work or study where and when you won’t be interrupted. You may feel that you can effectively filter out distractions or interruptions, but it takes mental effort to do so.

Brain training programs are available specifically to help improve working memory.
Brain training programs are available specifically to help improve working memory.

Focus your attention on what you need to learn or analyze. Turning your attention to your topic of interest will help your working memory. Adding meaning to your work or studies, perhaps by reviewing why the material is important, can also help you maintain your attention. Psychology studies have found that chunking information is useful for improving this type of short term memory. Working memory capacity is limited, so by chunking information your mind can handle more pieces than it could if you tried to remember each separate item.

Some pharmacological agents may help improve working memory. Neuroscience research results for dopamine agents cholinesterase inhibitors are encouraging. More studies, however, need to be done to determine their effectiveness.

Physical exercise may also enhance working memory. Although working memory may be impaired during and shortly after exercise, overall it improves working memory. Reducing stress may help improve working memory because short and long term stress seems to impair it. Meditation may help also because it can help you reduce stress. People who practice meditation often find it easier to focus.

There are many advantages to an enhanced working memory. It can increase fluid intelligence, which is general problem solving unrelated to what you’ve previously learned. This type of memory is also useful when learning new languages. Overall, good working memory capacity is associated with academic and career success.

Reducing distractions and disruptions is a good way to improve working memory.
Reducing distractions and disruptions is a good way to improve working memory.

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