How Your “Working Memory” Makes Sense of the World

Accessing working memory is an area of executive function that can create big headaches for many students, especially those who are struggling with ADHD or dyslexia. In this funny, enlightening TED Talk, educational psychologist Peter Doolittle details the importance—and limitations—of “working memory,” that part of the brain that allows us to make sense of what’s happening right now.

Feel free to watch the full video below, but I’d like to highlight one short quote where Doolittle captures the important role that working memory plays in our day-to-day lives. He says:

“Life comes at us very quickly, and what we need to do is take that amorphous flow of experience and somehow extract meaning from it.”

What a succinct, simple, and easily comprehensible definition of the role of working memory—but Doolittle doesn’t stop there. He also involves the audience in testing their own working memory and talks about strategies they can use to harness the power of working memory.

What did you think of this TED Talk? What other talks or videos would you recommend on the subject of working memory? Let us know in the comments.

  • Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS Media Manager