New Site Launched to Raise Awareness of Working Memory—a Little Known but Essential Brain Function Used in Daily Life

“aboutworkingmemory.org” provides information, interactive video exercise that challenges memory and attention capacity

Naperville, Ill., June 25, 2007 – Do you often walk into a room and suddenly wonder what you’re looking for? Or do you easily forget phone numbers, addresses and daily responsibilities? According to recent brain research, you simply have too much on your mind, or your working memory may need a mental workout.

Today Cogmed – www.cogmed.com – a developer of working memory training software programs for children and adults with attention deficits, launched About Working Memory – www.aboutworkingmemory.org – a new online resource dedicated to providing information, research and news about working memory, a key cognitive function used daily by people of all ages to hold information “in mind” for brief periods of time. The Web site, supported by psychologists and medical professionals from across the U.S., aims to increase consumer awareness of working memory and how it affects people professionally, academically and socially.

The site features the Working Memory Challenge, the first interactive working memory exercise to be offered online. The Working Memory Challenge is comprised of two brief exercises in which the user repeats a visual or oral sequence. The patterns that must be recalled grow more complicated until the user reaches his or her working memory limit. These enjoyable exercises are carefully designed to challenge the user’s ability to remember and manipulate information in very brief periods of time—a skill used for countless activities, including organizing tasks and solving problems. Recent scientific research has shown that working memory deficits are often linked to a wide range of attention problems in children, adolescents and adults.

“As few as 30 percent of U.S. adults know about working memory and its importance to academic, professional and personal achievement; that’s regretable,” said Jonas Jendi, Cogmed’s chief executive officer. “Impaired working memory is a leading contributor to attention problems and can dramatically affect an individual’s ability to succeed in life. Working memory is similar to computer RAM in that it is essential for daily functioning and it can be increased. In an age of multi-tasking and ‘multi-minding,’ many kids and adults may need a working memory upgrade.”

Until recently, working memory was understood to be a fixed mental ability. But research conducted by Dr. Torkel Klingberg, professor of neuroscience at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, indicates that it can be improved through repeated exercises that specifically target working memory. Klingberg showed that the training of working memory increases frontal and parietal brain activity, which indicates that the training actually changes structures underlying working memory in the brain. The research results were published in Nature Neuroscience in 2004.1 Since Klingberg’s original study, more than 10 studies conducted in the U.S. and Europe have validated the effectiveness of working memory training.

In children and adults with attention problems, increased working memory capacity has lead to measurable effects in improving attention and complex reasoning skills as well as controlling impulsive behavior. Scientific evidence indicates that people with attention deficits significantly improve their working memory with training and can reach the working memory level for their age group.