Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Brain’s Working Memory

Is working memory synonymous with short-term memory? Although there is some debate, they appear to differ. Working memory and short-term memory appear to engage different neural subsystems within the prefrontal cortex and parietal areas. Working memory also seems to develop later and at a slower pace than short-term memory. Multiple definitions have been proposed for working memory:  a system for both temporary storage and manipulation of information, which is necessary for a wide range of cognitive tasks; a passive store component plus attentional control; a core executive function utilizing the prefrontal cortex and some parietal areas and responsible for processes involved with reasoning, manipulation of stored information, decision making, and behaviors. One example suggests that repeating digits in the same order they were presented would be a short-term memory task, while repeating the digits backwards would be a working memory task.Working memory can be impaired by alcohol abuse and by acute and chronic psychological stress. Exposure to chronic stress can lead to profound working memory deficits along with dendritic atrophy. The bad news: the more stress in one's life the lower the efficiency of working memory in performing simple cognitive tasks. The good news: study participants who performed exercises that reduced the intrusion of negative thoughts showed an increase in their working memory capacity. 

No comments: