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Working memory in psychology: what is it and how to improve it?

Accord­ing to the dura­tion of infor­ma­tion stor­age in the brain struc­tures of an indi­vid­ual, short-term (ST), long-term (LT) and work­ing mem­o­ry (OP) are dis­tin­guished. A per­son who has received the task of remem­ber­ing new infor­ma­tion, in order to suc­cess­ful­ly com­plete the task, refers not only to pre­vi­ous­ly acquired knowl­edge (KP), but also to spe­cif­ic instruc­tions and instruc­tions that help to real­ize the intend­ed goal (OP).

What it is?

In the mid­dle of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. sci­en­tists have iden­ti­fied ongo­ing oper­a­tional trans­for­ma­tions in short-term mem­o­ry dur­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of cog­ni­tive process­es by an indi­vid­ual. Dur­ing the per­for­mance of com­plex math­e­mat­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions, when solv­ing prob­lems, inter­me­di­ate results are kept in the head as long as the per­son oper­ates with them. Sub­se­quent­ly, some of the actions are for­got­ten. Infor­ma­tion super­flu­ous for fur­ther work is forced out of mem­o­ry. The peri­od of their stor­age is deter­mined by the task set by the indi­vid­ual. Data can be saved from a few sec­onds to sev­er­al min­utes. Remov­ing unnec­es­sary facts makes room for the assim­i­la­tion of new infor­ma­tion.

Researchers have defined this process. Work­ing mem­o­ry is the reten­tion in the brain struc­tures of a per­son of the ini­tial data nec­es­sary to per­form a sep­a­rate act of action. The main char­ac­ter­is­tic of EP is the mem­o­riza­tion and repro­duc­tion of infor­ma­tion nec­es­sary for the imple­men­ta­tion of a spe­cif­ic oper­a­tion in the cur­rent activ­i­ty.

Thus, work­ing mem­o­ry in psy­chol­o­gy is an inter­me­di­ate link between short-term and long-term mem­o­riza­tion. It works when an indi­vid­ual per­forms actu­al oper­a­tions for a short peri­od of time in order to main­tain a trace of the image nec­es­sary to com­plete the cur­rent task.

Basic properties

The func­tion­ing of the OP is asso­ci­at­ed with strong neu­ropsy­chic stress due to the inter­ac­tion of a num­ber of oppos­ing cen­ters of exci­ta­tion. OP is able to hold no more than two vari­able fac­tors at the moment of oper­at­ing with objects whose state is chang­ing.

A per­son per­fect­ly under­stands com­plex long phras­es thanks to a good OP. Com­pre­hen­sion of the text occurs due to the short-term mem­o­riza­tion of some of its ele­ments. A math­e­mat­i­cal prob­lem lends itself to solu­tion, because for some time the nec­es­sary num­bers are retained in mem­o­ry.

Work­ing mem­o­ry is char­ac­ter­ized by selec­tiv­i­ty, super­fi­cial­i­ty and short dura­tion. For exam­ple, when prepar­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion, a stu­dent remem­bers his report to the small­est detail, up to the choice of into­na­tion at the time of speak­ing. After the pre­sen­ta­tion, the essence of the infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed remains in the long-term mem­o­ry stor­age, and small details and some sub­tleties of repro­duc­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion itself are erased.

How to develop?

Any mod­ern per­son knows that pump­ing the RAM of a com­put­er means test­ing its band­width and laten­cy, as well as adding addi­tion­al vol­ume. Is it pos­si­ble for a per­son to train this func­tion of the brain in order to increase the capac­i­ty of this type of mem­o­ry? It is pos­si­ble to improve the pro­duc­tiv­i­ty of the EP through the max­i­mum load, the absence of which accel­er­ates the process of weak­en­ing and aging of the men­tal func­tion.

The mechan­i­cal mem­o­riza­tion of edu­ca­tion­al mate­r­i­al does not allow knowl­edge to break through from the oper­a­tional stor­age to the long-term archive. Mechan­i­cal mem­o­riza­tion of poet­ry and prose text does not con­tribute to the devel­op­ment of OP. Mem­o­riz­ing rhyming lines and prose in a mean­ing­ful way, replen­ish­ing vocab­u­lary, learn­ing for­eign lan­guages, solv­ing prob­lems, solv­ing cross­word puz­zles and rebus­es brings ben­e­fits.

There are prospects for strength­en­ing the OP pro­vid­ed that dai­ly train­ing exer­cis­es are per­formed. Exam­ples of tasks assigned to a per­son:

  • keep­ing a dai­ly diary with fix­ing inter­est­ing infor­ma­tion received dur­ing the day;
  • speak­ing aloud any per­ceived new infor­ma­tion;
  • retelling to rel­a­tives, friends, acquain­tances of the plots of films watched, the con­tent of books read;
  • a writ­ten descrip­tion of the archi­tec­tur­al fea­tures of the build­ing seen;
  • com­pil­ing an iden­tik­it of any passer­by, ran­dom­ly met per­son;
  • show­ing inter­est in learn­ing the func­tions of new smart­phones and oth­er elec­tron­ic equip­ment;
  • night­ly recov­ery in mem­o­ry of expe­ri­enced emo­tions, events of the past day with a men­tal recre­ation of the small­est details in reverse order.

Mem­o­ry can only be trained by actions. Solv­ing sim­ple prob­lems, men­tal cal­cu­la­tions with­out the use of a cal­cu­la­tor is an excel­lent train­ing for work­ing mem­o­ry.

Division into groups

All infor­ma­tion received must be struc­tured. The divi­sion into blocks effec­tive­ly affects the final result. Read­ing by syl­la­bles, groups of words con­tributes to the orga­ni­za­tion of the integri­ty of the mem­o­rized text.

To quick­ly mem­o­rize a num­ber con­sist­ing of 9 char­ac­ters, it is advised to break it into parts of 3 dig­its. Let’s say you need to remem­ber the doc­u­ment num­ber 314365404. The first group of dig­i­tal char­ac­ters can be asso­ci­at­ed with the num­ber “pi”. The sec­ond third of the num­ber is remem­bered by the num­ber of days in a year. The last dig­i­tal group is asso­ci­at­ed with the occur­rence of an error when search­ing for the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion on the Inter­net, when the mes­sage “Error 404 Not Found” is dis­played on a blank screen.

When com­bin­ing the learned indi­vid­ual dig­i­tal groups, the repro­duc­tion of the entire num­ber is easy and fast.


Infor­ma­tion of any com­plex­i­ty is well remem­bered through the use of mnemon­ics aimed at the fig­u­ra­tive per­cep­tion of the mate­r­i­al. The tech­nique involves the cre­ation of asso­cia­tive links, increased con­cen­tra­tion of atten­tion. Incom­ing infor­ma­tion is men­tal­ly encod­ed by gen­er­at­ing images. In the course is the attrac­tion of smells, taste sen­sa­tions, sounds, music, pic­tures and a wide vari­ety of emo­tions.

To mem­o­rize impor­tant infor­ma­tion, you do not need to imme­di­ate­ly fix it in a note­book. First you need to cre­ate an image in your imag­i­na­tion, a vivid asso­ci­a­tion. The more absurd the asso­cia­tive series are, the eas­i­er it is to remem­ber the nec­es­sary mate­r­i­al. Repro­duc­ing a list of nec­es­sary pur­chas­es in mem­o­ry is easy using the method of bind­ing to objects encoun­tered along the way from the apart­ment to the super­mar­ket. For exam­ple, a per­son must buy toma­toes, sug­ar, canned corn, slip­pers, tooth­paste, a chil­dren’s jack­et, a fresh issue of their favorite mag­a­zine.

When mem­o­riz­ing, it is nec­es­sary to delib­er­ate­ly exag­ger­ate images, revive objects, mod­i­fy them, and focus on a spe­cif­ic detail of the object. Not a sin­gle pur­chase will be missed if a per­son imag­ines his way to the place of pur­chase of goods. When leav­ing the apart­ment, he in his imag­i­na­tion stum­bles upon a huge moun­tain of fresh bright red toma­toes. Pass­ing by mail­box­es, a poten­tial buy­er sees snow-white gran­u­lat­ed sug­ar quick­ly pour­ing out of their slots.

The exit to the street is blocked by a huge can of corn, the size of which can exceed human height. Slip­pers of bright col­ors stick out from the urn, stand­ing near the bench at the entrance. Tubes of tooth­paste are casu­al­ly scat­tered on the bench. A lilac bush is cov­ered with a chil­dren’s jack­et, sparkling due to neon light­ing. The trail is lit­tered with col­or­ful mag­a­zines.

Involv­ing musi­cal pieces in the mem­o­riza­tion process helps to asso­ciate spe­cif­ic infor­ma­tion with cer­tain sounds. Sub­se­quent­ly, the sound sequences allow you to extract the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion from the brain struc­tures with­out any extra effort.

The advan­tage of using music to mem­o­rize facts is the abil­i­ty to relax the psy­che and respite in the use of active atten­tion. At the same time, stress is relieved.

Prop­er nutri­tion, suf­fi­cient replen­ish­ment of the body with vit­a­mins, a healthy lifestyle, good sleep, dai­ly walks, and phys­i­cal exer­cis­es help to improve the func­tion­ing of RAM. It is advis­able to avoid neg­a­tive emo­tions and stress­ful sit­u­a­tions. Smok­ers and drinkers have a sig­nif­i­cant decrease in the mem­o­riza­tion of any infor­ma­tion, so it makes sense to get rid of bad habits.

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