Friday, 19 April 2013

Short Term or Active Memory Why’s and How’s (understanding why we have so much frustration and occasional meltdowns) by Toby Lee Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2013

We only rely on our short term memory for storing up to seven things for periods of 20 seconds. Information is then passed onto our long term memory.
Have you ever arrived into a room and forgotten the reason for going in there or maybe about to place an order for food and you can only remember some of the order?…you may have a short term memory problem. This could be short lived (caused by being ill or stress) or more permanent due to a learning need.
We have several areas that we can move information into - short term or long term storage and that is through our sensory channels…hear /say something, see something , touch something, taste something, smell something…all but our hearing happen very much without us realising.

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For many, poor memory when it comes to some aspects of learning or life, can be easily forgotten…these are generally areas that hold little interest and therefore become far easier to forget. One area that never ceases to amaze me is the power of the short and long term memory to retain information through the visual channel.
This is why so many struggle with maths at school, as for the most part it is numbers and not visually stimulating. Try bouncing on an exercise ball or playing maths snap and see the difference… retention is far higher.
I was at a teacher training session many moons ago and can still remember some of the names!
The main reason for this lapse or poor short-term memory is often attributed not so much to the ability of the brain to retain such information, but to the ability of the person to engage in a given task.

How many of you go into a venue and are met by a friend who introduces you to a few people and seconds later you have forgotten their names? It might not necessarily be down to a memory problem. When you entered the room you might well have been distracted by i’s fine architecture or maybe the decor or an intriguing character in the corner. You might be nervous and maybe anticipating awkward conversation, or maybe you weren’t listening when you were first introduced. Try playing a game with yourself by linking each one to a theme or maybe the way they are dressed, like ‘dashing Dan’ or ‘delightful Diana’… this will help you remember names and those other niggling things that are likely to cause awkward moments.

Train your brain everyday…it’s a large muscle and think what happens to our other muscles that get little use. Make sure you do things you find stimulating, this will aid retention and short sharp regular bursts of games or activities will help also.
Get in the habit of recording things…I encourage my students to keep a reflective diary…that way you will refresh your mind of the day’s events and names/places, etc. and a calendar for forthcoming events.
A good memory is key to our survival and one of the things that can also affect it is confidence. If you put yourself under pressure…many melt when the word test is mentioned and that can trigger a shutdown in our memory. This can also cause us to stutter, stammer over an important speech or reading out loud. Take the praise of others but also praise yourself when you achieve something… this raises confidence and self-esteem, which will also sharpen your memory.
When we pop to the shops quite often we make a list and this would be something we could introduce into many things we do…you can also try visualising a previous time to help you remember something you were going to do or even help you track something you have lost or misplaced. This is also a handy technique for doing something new. I remember taking my Motorcycle Test… I know I am dyspraxic and yes, you heard me correct, my Motorcycle Test! During the training I struggled to come up to the expectations of the instructor and was staring at a fail. After thinking it through, that evening I decided to try a different approach. The next morning I said to the instructor that I wanted to follow him, he was shocked but agreed. I was able to visualise all I needed to know and that afternoon much to his amazement I passed and passed well.
I am a very strong believer in short bursts of stimulation through the visual channel to help strengthen short term and long term memory.
The information we provide is for guidance purposes only and professional advice should always be sought.
Resources can also play a part in stimulating and improving short term memory. One such game we stock is the BrainBox range of Memory Training Games. Have a look at the various titles on our Online Resource Store,

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