LW4K Video Series: What is Working Memory?

Welcome to our new LW4K Video Series where we take an executive function skill and break it down into easy-to-understand examples. This series also provides examples of video games that can help your child enhance their executive functioning skills, as well as examples of when this skill can be utilized in real life. Click here to watch the third installment of the series: What is Working Memory? The transcript of the video is also provided below for your convenience. A special thanks to our videographer J.R. for making this awesome video!


What is Working Memory? 

Working Memory is the skill that helps you to: 

  1. Understand what you have just read 
  2. Remember information and then use it later 
  3. Perform multi-step directions and 
  4. Do math problems in your head

Working Memory can help you to: 

  1. Read a story without having to stop and go back over it 
  2. Remember all the rules of a game while playing it 
  3. And Remember information and use it at the same time 

Here are some times when you may use Working Memory in everyday life:

  1. When you’re learning a new sport or hobby 
  2. When you are taking a test at school
  3. When you are packing your bag for a big vacation
  4. When you’re following complex directions to complete a task 
  5. When you are writing down information as someone gives it to you
  6. When you are reading something out loud and retaining the information 
  7. When you are cooking and can remember the next step of the recipe without looking and
  8. Tell a story about something that happened to you from memory

Working Memory is also an important skill for playing video games: 

Working Memory is an important skill when it comes to playing fighting games, like Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. This game has a large amount of button combinations that allow the user to control their character and perform special moves. In order to effectively use these attacks and special moves, the player needs to remember what buttons to hit in the middle of the fight. 

You can also use your Working Memory when playing games like Stardew Valley. In the game, there is a bulletin board where the player can find various jobs that need to be done around town. The player needs to remember what the job was and what they need to collect in order to successfully complete the task. There are additional quests the player can take on, meaning that they need to keep many different ideas in their head at the same time while playing the game. Time is limited each day so the player also needs to work quickly to make sure that the jobs are done on time. 

In the game Among Us, the player is part of a crew aboard a spaceship with other crew members who are trying to get their tasks completed. The problem is that one of the members is an imposter and is trying to eliminate everyone on a ship. The player, whether they are part of the crew or the imposter, needs to use their working memory to recall where they saw each player last. This will help them determine who is the killer or who they can kill easily without anyone seeing them. 


The next time you’re playing a video game, pay attention to the times when you need working memory the most. Then think about how using your working memory helped you get better at the game. See if you can apply these strategies to things you need to remember in the real world. You just may find that practicing your working memory skills in a game, you can get better at using working memory in real life too. 


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