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Improving Working Memory/Executive function

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Is working memory and executive function the same thing?  If not, what is the difference and how do you go about in improving them?


I read past threads and for working memory a few people seem to use something from achieve publications and linguisystem.  Any feedback on those products?


Thanks.  :) 

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My kid who needs to be taught EF skills explicitly has high WM and average PS. I have no idea about low WM but this article explains EF simply as well as having tips for parents.




WM 99.9 percentile, PS 50 percentile, for my kid with EF issues in case the info help someone. Evaluated for ADHD once formally and once informally and does not fall under ADHD.

Edited by Arcadia
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WM is something you can intervene on and get up then hold with life/activities.  EF is going to be a battle because it's the larger category and involves so many areas and aspects.  It's considered a part of the brain, so you've got all the activities in that part of the brain affected.


We've had some threads on WM.  My only advice is to do it lots of ways, not just one.  Doesn't have to be perfect, just brief, intense, and with variety.  And as you get improvement, the rule is you'll only hold what you use.  

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We own several books including an EF one put out by Linguisystems.  They were no good for me.  Quite frankly, I don't want to self-teach and become a subject matter expert on one more brain issue.  I've had my fill at this point and have turned to an excellent CBT.


Maybe read the following post:




My son's wm is completely average and he struggles wiith EF; of course, he is also 2e with low processing scores.  The CBT believes that wm may be improved with Brain HQ and Cogmed.  Check out my goal setting chart that was posted on the above-mentioned thread.  DS began practicing mindfulness which is improving his metacognition.  I love that!  DS is actually thinking about his thinking for the first time ever and on his own.  

Edited by Heathermomster
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Working memory, is actually a combination?

Where each of our senses, has its own dedicated working memory.

These are brains recieval points for processing information from each sense.

For example, while your 'eyes see'. They are just the camera.

Your visual working memory, is what processes the constant steam of visual data.


But each type of working memory, requires the development of a set of skills to effectively use.

Which are basically 'editing skills', that take around 8 years to learn how to use.

Using visual WM as an example?

Skills involve being able to 'capture' a visual image from the stream.

Basically using a 'pause button'.

This briefly saves the image in 'short term memory'.

We can briefly save multiple images in our short term memory.

Then retrieve them into our working memory, and fit them together.

Forming relationships between them.

This can then be sent back to short term memory, for brief storage.

Where this assemblage, can form what we call 'comprehension'.


But with separate working memories for each sense?

They come together to create a combined working memory.

So that our 'Olfactory working memory', might recognize a particular 'smell'?

Which could retrieve an associated image in our visual w/m?

As well as the name of that image, in our auditory w/m.


Though it needs to be appreciated,  the complexity of this constant stream of information. That the brain is recieving from all of our senses?

With about 7 different senses identified so far.

That require the Function of an Executive manager,  to oversee and coordinate?


This Executive Function manager, resides in our frontal cortex, just behind our forehead.

But one important thing about the way that we use the brain develops?

Is that the brain only makes a connection to our Frontal Cortex, at around the age of 20 years.


So that Executives in head office, only move in after all of the Working Memory departments have been fully established.

Though a crucial factor with each type of working memory?

Is that they require the development of skills acquisition, to make full use of.

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I'm reading Smart but Scattered (Dawson, Guare) right now which offers practical strategies to address weak executive skills such as working memory.
They've broken down executive skills into subsets:

  • Response inhibition
  • Emotional control
  • Task initiation
  • Organization
  • Goal-directed persistence
  • Flexibility
  • Working memory
  • Sustained attention
  • Planning/prioritization
  • Time management
  • Metacognition
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