Working Memory Rehab


Working memory is a central problem for those with Autism, ADHD, learning disorders, and auditory/visual processing disorders. Working memory helps us stay involved in something longer, pay attention and keep more things in mind while performing a task. It allows us to resist distractions and inhibit impulsive choices. Research shows that working memory impairments are associated with low learning outcomes and constitute a high risk factor for educational underachievement for children.

Working memory…

  • is one of the executive functions responsible for goal-directed and problem solving behaviours, and is the link between memory, learning, and comprehension
  • is responsible for short-term mental storage and manipulating information
  • functions as a mental workspace: holds information we are actively thinking about, which requires awareness, and both the simultaneous processing, and storage of information; dual tasking
  • is involved in reading, comprehension, remembering and following directions, spelling, planning, grasping core of conversation, ‘mental’ arithmetic, and attention shifting
  • allows you to comprehend what you are reading and to figure out the meaning
  • directs attention and gives priority to particular activities
  • is short term recall = 1 to 2 seconds
  • is required for long term storage, academic and social success

For those with working memory impairments, brain based rehab is absolutely essential to be successful academically and socially. Training builds neuroplasticity in cognitive abilities, processing speed, and comprehension.

There are two main controls for working memory:


This is the sound phonological system which is responsible for the manipulation of speech based information. Visual (auditory) memory…

  • is linked to speech perception.
  • is used to rehearse and store verbal information from the phonological system
  • holds information in ‘speech based’ form (conversation, instruction)

If there’s a weakness in verbal (auditory) working memory, a person may not be able to keep the instructions in mind while working with them. This is true even when they fully understand what to do.

In Auditory Processing disorder, it’s not that they can’t hear the instructions; the information is lost before they’re able to perform the task, comprehend or respond to the question.


 Visual working memory is responsible for retaining visual shapes and colours. Spatial memory is responsible for information about locations and movement. Visual spatial working memory…

  • is responsible for manipulating visual images.
  • uses a kind of visual sketchpad of the brain. It allows you to envision something, to keep it in your “mind’s eye.” Students use this skill to do mental math by remembering patterns, images and sequences of events.