Subject: Psychology and Education
Topic: Working Memory and Cognitive Control
Language: English (U.S.)
Pages: 4
Week 9 Assignments 1. Read Chapter 9: Working Memory and Cognitive Control 2. Complete one of the following exercises (60 Points) Exercise A. Optional Topic: Create Your Own For every section of the course after the first one, you have the option of designing your own exercise rather than completing one that I have specified. This serves two important purposes. First, it allows people to work on topics about which they have a special interest. Second, it allows people to use free time to work ahead and prepare for unusually busy times or emergencies that might arise. The steps involved in completing this optional exercise are: • ·Read the assigned section of the text and identify topics you find interesting. • ·Search the Web and locate at least two sites that provide useful information on that topic (or something reasonably closely related). • ·Write an essay of at least 800 words on the material that you have found. Your essay must be relevant to the current section of the course and must extend the material presented in the text. You may provide additional information on a topic covered in the text or you may provide information on a topic or issue that the text doesn’t cover at all. Remember that the purpose of your essay is to further educate your classmates on something important and relevant to the current topic. You will not receive credit for simply restating or explaining the material in the text. • ·Include the URLs to all sites that you use at the end of your essay, exactly as you would put references at the end of any paper. Your URLs must work! I will test every URL you cite and there will be severe penalties for any that don’t work. I strongly suggest that you use copy and paste rather than trying to type even short and simple URLs. • ·Post your essay with a descriptive title. Exercise B: Working Memory and ADHD Chapter 9 includes research pertaining to the role working memory (mainly deficits in working memory) plays in children and adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Russell Barkley’s unifying theory of ADHD proposes that the main deficit in people with attention disorders is not Attention per se; rather, there are deficits in Executive Functions, including working memory. For this essay, summarize the recent developments in the area of working memory. Next, describe how working memory is hypothesized to effect people with ADHD. What has the research shown? What do you think is going on? Describe the merits of “working memory training” that is popping up to address deficits in working memory in people with ADHD. And finally, how does stimulant medication work for people with ADHD? Here are a few URLs to get you started. Exercise C: An Experiment on Visual Versus Auditory Encoding In this exercise you will conduct a mini-experiment to demonstrate the differences between visually and auditorially encoded information. Try to test about 10 people, 5 in the visual condition and 5 in the auditory condition, and try to match people in the two groups as much as possible in terms of age, gender, etc. That is, don’t have all children in one group and all adults in the other. If you choose this exercise, you will find the materials you need in this module included in the document labeled “Chapter 9 Experiment.” When you have collected data on 10 people, write a report presenting and discussing your findings. For example, what were the average scores of people in each of the groups? Was there very much or very little overlap between the scores of people in the two groups? What comments did your participants make and how did they react to your experiment? What are your reactions to your findings?

Analyzing working memory and ADHD        

 ADHD is a commonly prescribed disorder among many young children. People who have attention deficit hyperactivity-disorder have an inability to pay attention and difficulty in controlling behavior. For many years, the main culprit in ADHD was the inability to pay attention. However, research indicates a close link between working memory and ADHD. ADHD negatively affects executive functions in children. Executive functions include a set of cognitive functions such as attention control, inhibition control, cognitive flexibility, problem solving, and reasoning. Children with ADHD will perform poorly in any task that requires them to use executive functions (Rappley, 2005). This paper focuses on the relationship between ADHD and one of the executive functions, working memory, and the potential of working memory treatment to cure ADHD.

     Working memory is one of the essential executive functions. Working memory is a cognitive process with limited capacity that has processing, transient holding, and manipulation of information responsibilities. In human beings, working memory is an important part of reasoning, behavior, and decision-making. Thus, it is evident that deficiencies in working memory can seriously hamper an individual's ability to reason and behave normally (Morrison & Chein, 2011). It is important to note that there is a distinction between working memory and short-term memory. Working memory is a sort of temporary buffer that assists in the processing and manipulation of stored information while short-term memory is short-term storage of information not involved in manipulation of information.

     The common notion among working memory researchers is that there is limited working memory capacity in the brain. The foremost working memory expert, Miller, suggested that the information storage capacity of working memory is only seven simultaneous elements; the seven elements can be words, letters, digits, or any other units (Morrison & Chein, 2011). However, recent research indicates that the “storage capacity” of working memory is dynamic across a wide range of people and situations. Research shows that working memory training does not improve working memory capacity, but the ability to retrieve and transfer information from long-term memory (Morrison & Chein, 2011). Research also indicates that working memory improves, as people grow older.

     Other recent developments in the field of working memory are different strategies to measure the capacity of working memory in individuals. One of the most commonly used strategies by researchers is the dual task paradigm; as the name indicates, the test consists of a dual set of activities. One of the activities measures an individual’s memory span while another set of activities measures an individual’s concurrent processing ability. A typical dual task paradigm test involves the researcher reading a number of sentences to the subject and instructing the subject to remember the last word of every sentence; the subject then recites the last words in their correct order (Morrison & Chein, 2011).

    Working memory affects attention, and one of the main symptoms of ADHD patients is a chronic lack of attention (Rappley, 2005). Research shows that people who do poorly in working memory tests also have problems controlling attention. In almost all cases where children have ADHD, the children also have working memory problems. The correlation between working memory and ADHD can be moderate to severe. The link between working memory and ADHD suggests that it is possible to mitigate some of the effects of ADHD using working memory training; this is a possibility that researchers are actively exploring and holds promise in generating further insights on ADHD (Rapport, Kofler, Raiker, & Bolden, 2016).

    Working memory training are activities intended to improve an individual’s working memory capacity. Research indicates that working memory is an essential part of an individual's IQ, mental health, and intellectual faculty. As such, there is great interest in working memory exercises as a way of improving one’s information processing capabilities. It is possible, to improve intelligence and mitigate the impact of ADHD using working memory training (Morrison & Chein, 2011). Research indicates that working memory training produces short-term improvements in attention control among children who have ADHD. However, continuous training is necessary for the gains to persist.

    Working memory training usually takes place on a computer. Working memory training demands that the trainee encodes information, maintain, manipulate, control and shift attention (Klingberg, Olesen, Gustafsson, Fernell, & Westerberg, 2005). An example of a working memory task involves individuals recalling numbers presented on the screen in reverse order. The computers used to perform the training automatically adjust the difficulty to allow continuous learning and improvement.

     Much research conducted at the turn of the century claimed that working memory training is a viable strategy to deal with the attention limitations of ADHD and other disorders that affect attention. The research also showed a positive correlation between working memory and intelligence improvements. Later analysis of the turn of the century studies conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology showed that the results of the previous studies were inconsistent because of inaccuracies and inefficiencies in measuring working memory and attention (Rapport, Kofler, Raiker, & Bolden, 2016).

     Working memory treatment has the potential to mitigate the effects of ADHD. However, the recorded improvements vary and in many cases, the improvements are only short term, and consistent training is necessary for improvements that are more permanent. 

   Stimulants work by stimulating the release of neurotransmitters in the brain to improve brain functions. In people who have ADHD, neurons prematurely absorb neurotransmitters limiting the ability of brain neuron to communicate. Stimulant medication mitigates the premature absorbing of stimulant by encouraging the production of more neurotransmitters and making the brain function more efficiently (Rappley, 2005).


Klingberg, Olesen, Gustafsson, Fernell, & Westerberg. (2005). Computerized training of working memory in children with ADHD-a randomized, controlled trial. Ournal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 177-186.

Morrison, & Chein. (2011). Does working memory training work? The promise and challenges of enhancing cognition by training working memory. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 46-60.

Rappley. (2005). Attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder. New England Journal of Medicine, 165-173.

Rapport, Kofler, Raiker, & Bolden. (2016). ADHD and working memory. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38(2).