Short Term Memory is the "work bench" of the mind. It is the space in our thinking where we are actively working. It is the "surface" that holds the items we are actively thinking about, and where we "work" on those items, creating new thoughts and ideas. Different people have different "work bench" sizes, capacities, and levels of stability. Some people have large work benches that can hold vast amounts of information at one time. These people may be able to easily repeat back what they heard, often don't have difficulty taking notes on what they hear, and may be able to quickly recall details of what they read. Some people have work benches with smaller surface area. They may not be able to put as many items on their work benches before things start falling off. These individuals may lose track of conversations, may have difficulty recalling what they read, and may need to refer back to lists of tasks often in order to remember the next step.
Short term memory can also be impacted by how much work is done with the items on the bench. This is called "working memory". Some people have a working memory that is strong enough that thoughts can easily be worked on, manipulated, re-organized, and built upon. People with a strong working memory can easily "work with" the information. For instance, they may be able to mentally re-organize a list of tasks, may be able to adjust ideas based on new information that they take in, or be able to create new ideas from what they already know. People with weak working memory may be able to keep information on their "work bench". Their short term memory may be fine, but their working memory is week and the entire "work bench" collapses under the stress. People with weak working memory have trouble thinking about what they hear, they have difficulty generating new ideas, and may forget things easily when they do more than just repeat back with they see or hear.
Short term and working memory can be improved on with consistent practice with simple techniques. I often address challenges in working memory in my Educational Therapy sessions. There are also brain-training programs that address weaknesses in Short Term and Working Memory.
Curious about your child's mental "work bench"?
With my Cognitive Analysis Program and Psycho-Educational Evaluations I am able to give parents powerful information about how their child learns, including their "work bench" capacity.
Lisa works with families who are looking for educational solutions for their children. She has provided services to families in the DFW area for over 10 years.