Training Working Memory: Why and How
The memory article I chose discusses working memory and recent attempts to improve memory function.
Working memory is the amount of separate items you can remember at one instant-such as phone numbers, addresses, where you put your keys, etc. Working memory and intelligence are related. “The more you can hold in working memory, the more information the brain has to think with.”
Studies in Japan show that working memory can be increased with training. While most people can usually hold about 4 separate items at a time in their memory, with training that number increases to up to eight items. Another study shows how a person’s IQ score can also increase with memory training exercises. In tests with second grade students there was a 12% increase in IQ scores in those who received training, as compared with 6% in a non-trained control group.
It is also interesting that memory training seems to increase the density of dopamine receptors in the cerebral cortex. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of euphoria and is often thought of as a way the human brain rewards itself. Not only does memory training seem to increase intelligence there seems to be evidence that there is also the psychological reward of good feelings. This could lead to further work using memory training to treat depression and anxiety disorders.
The article briefly states that education in the US is not taking advantage of these facts. It charges that US education focuses on what to learn instead of how to learn. This is something that should, and probably will, change in the future as more evidence and research becomes main stream.