What is working memory?

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Working memory refers to memory that is currently in use.  Whenever a person is tyring to understand what the other person is saying, the brain is actually processing the information through the person’s so-called working memory. Whatever needs understanding, response, or consideration in the present time is the result of a functioning working memory.

Some people also refer to working memory as short-term memory because this type of memory is used up in the actual moment or short term where a situation or mental task is happening.  When a person gives out instructions and details for example, the other person must have an efficient working memory in order to get all the details and instructions, understand the context of the instruction, and perhaps act on it later.  Working memory does not only involve a good listening skill but also requires immediate comprehension and analysis of a certain concern or task.  One may be able to listen to another person’s instruction but not necessarily be able to understand or get the important details.  In this case, the working memory of the person supposedly became inefficient and failed.

For many psychologists and medical experts, a good working memory is needed for a more successful and efficient learning.  Kids and students for example are encourage to improve their working memory while they are still in school in order to become better at following instructions or doing tasks later on in life.  For these experts, working memory is essential in terms of planning ahead and reaching goals or completing task.  If the working memory is not good enough, a person will basically have difficulty following an instruction or getting the desired result.  Working memory involves the active part of the brain in terms of processing and understanding at the present moment.  This part of the memory can only be accessed for a short period of time and people basically need to master this part of the brain in order to become better learners.

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