What’s the Relationship Between Working Memory and ADHD in Teenagers?

Working memory (Token Search) is a cognitive function that allows individuals to hold and manipulate information in their minds for short periods.

The Token Search task is designed to assess working memory by requiring individuals to search for and remember the locations of hidden tokens in a grid while avoiding previously searched locations.

Lagging working memory, as measured by the Token Search task, can impact a teen’s ability to study and learn in several ways:

  • Retaining information: Working memory is crucial for holding information temporarily while performing a task or processing new information. Teens with lagging working memory may struggle to remember and manipulate information while studying, affecting their ability to understand and retain new concepts.
  • Reading comprehension: Working memory is essential for understanding and remembering the content of written materials. Teens with lagging working memory may have difficulty comprehending complex texts, making connections between ideas, or remembering key details, which can hinder their overall reading comprehension skills.
  • Problem-solving: Many academic tasks require the ability to hold and manipulate information in mind, such as solving mathematical problems, analyzing scientific data, or constructing logical arguments. Teens with lagging working memory may struggle with these problem-solving tasks, impacting their overall academic performance.
  • Concentration and focus: Working memory is closely related to attention and concentration. Teens with lagging working memory may find it challenging to stay focused on a task, which can lead to decreased productivity and effectiveness while studying.
  • Following multi-step instructions: Students often need to remember and execute a sequence of steps when completing assignments or studying new material. Teens with lagging working memory might have difficulty remembering and following these instructions, leading to errors and reduced study efficiency.

Addressing working memory deficits through targeted interventions can help children improve their study skills, better retain and manipulate information, and enhance their academic performance across various subjects.

But where do you start?

At our clinic, our experts focus on your whole child. Part of our method involves Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) with specialized counselors who have specific training for teens with ADHD.

CBT skills can be particularly helpful in addressing lagging working memory skills in children with ADHD. 

Here’s an overview of CBT skills that will support your teen:

Visual imagery and visualization techniques: These techniques help tens create mental images of the information they need to remember. By turning abstract concepts into vivid visual representations, it becomes easier for the student to retain and recall the information when needed.

Chunking information into smaller, more manageable units: Breaking down complex information into smaller, related groups makes it easier for the student to process and remember the details. For example, instead of trying to remember a long list of items, they can group them into categories, making it more manageable to recall.

Rehearsal and repetition strategies: Regularly rehearsing and repeating information can help strengthen the neural connections in the brain, making it easier for the student to remember the information. These strategies can involve verbal repetition, writing things down, or using flashcards for practice.

Using mnemonic devices to aid memory retention: Mnemonic devices are memory aids that help children remember information by associating it with something more memorable, such as an acronym, rhyme, or visual cue. These devices can simplify complex information and make it more accessible for students with working memory deficits.

Developing and practicing organizational and time management skills: By teaching teens how to create schedules, set priorities, and break tasks into smaller steps, CBT can help them develop better organizational and time management skills. These skills can, in turn, alleviate some of the difficulties associated with working memory deficits, such as forgetting assignments, losing track of time, and struggling to manage multiple tasks simultaneously.

Overall, these CBT skills provide your teen with tools and strategies to compensate for their working memory deficits, allowing them to perform better academically and navigate everyday challenges more effectively.

If you’re interested in a FREE call with our team of experts to get to the root cause of your teen’s academic struggles, you can book it right here.

References:
Klingberg, T., Fernell, E., Olesen, P. J., Johnson, M., Gustafsson, P., Dahlström, K., … & Westerberg, H. (2005). Computerized training of working memory in children with ADHD—A randomized, controlled trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 44(2), 177-186.
Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890856709616590

Beck, S. J., Hanson, C. A., Puffenberger, S. S., Benninger, K. L., & Benninger, W. B. (2010). A controlled trial of working memory training for children and adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 39(6), 825-836.
Link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15374416.2010.517162

Gray, S. A., Chaban, P., Martinussen, R., Goldberg, R., Gotlieb, H., Kronitz, R., … & Tannock, R. (2012). Effects of a computerized working memory training program on working memory, attention, and academics in adolescents with severe LD and comorbid ADHD: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53(12), 1277-1284.
Link: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2012.02592.x

Cortese, S., Ferrin, M., Brandeis, D., Buitelaar, J., Daley, D., Dittmann, R. W., … & Sonuga-Barke, E. J. (2015). Cognitive training for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Meta-analysis of clinical and neuropsychological outcomes from randomized controlled trials. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(3), 164-174.
Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890856715000211

Lofthouse, N., Arnold, L. E., Hersch, S., Hurt, E., & DeBeus, R. (2012). A review of neurofeedback treatment for pediatric ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 16(5), 351-372.
Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1087054711427530

BLOG DISCLAIMER

The information provided in this blog is for general educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the author's affiliates. The author and affiliates make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this blog and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. The author and affiliates shall not be liable for any errors or omissions in the content of this blog or for any damages arising therefrom or in connection with the use or performance of the information contained in this blog.

Rey Cortez

Leave a Comment