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Working Memory Games

(33 Posts)
AfricanExport Wed 04-Apr-12 09:11:01


I am looking for some advice on improving working memory in my kids. Both of them (7 & 10) have been to an Ed Psych privately for testing.

Out of the 4 IQ based tests they did - they both had working memory around 35 points below the rest of their results (which were very good). Kimms game etc are no good because DS has a photographic memory when it comes to that but cannot remember instructions etc - this is causing huge issues with schoolwork as speed is an issue.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You

mrz Wed 04-Apr-12 09:34:35

It sounds as if Command type games would be the best option

Commands Game

The Commands Game is a listening, attention and memory game that helps children practice real-world tasks and skills. Challenge the child to perform a series of tasks by giving him verbal instructions. The number of items in the sequence determines the difficulty of this game. You could, for example, ask him to fetch the ball from the garden, bounce it 10 times , run on the spot for a minute, put the ball in the garage , spin in a circle twice--and so on.

Start with two or three instructions and build up

Auditory Recall Games

Auditory recall games are played much like visual recall games. The only difference is that the items to be remembered are heard instead of seen. Try calling out a sequence of numbers or letters, and ask players to recall as many as they can. You can also read aloud a short story, then ask participants to recall as many details as they can.

AfricanExport Wed 04-Apr-12 10:15:31

Hi Mrz

Now I know why questions are simply directed straight to you...

Thanks so much. I will try both of those. The Auditory recall is definitely what dd needs anyway as she had Audio-processing issues. Holiday's are here and it is time to sort this issue out once and for all.

Thanks again

IndigoBell Wed 04-Apr-12 10:35:17

Mrz - do you find these games actually help?

IndigoBell Wed 04-Apr-12 10:36:41

And aren't they auditory memory games rather than working memory games?

IndigoBell Wed 04-Apr-12 10:39:51

If you have an iPhone brainFitPro will give your working memory a serious workout. Not sure if it'll be too hard for kids though....

I'm also really not sure if any of this stuff improves their memory in general - or if they just get better at playing the particular game they're playing.

mrz Wed 04-Apr-12 10:40:00

Personally I find the first most effective if the child has problems recalling instructions as the OP said in her post Indigo.

IndigoBell Wed 04-Apr-12 10:49:05

OP - did the EP test auditory memory and working memory?

They are two different things.

If you google 'working memory games' you get loads: (which is like the brainfitpro app I mentioned)


But they claim to improve working memory not auditory memory.....

And I don't think they'll help your child follow instructions better. I think working memory is more about how much you can hold (and use) in your mind at one time.

ie if you can read perfectly well, but forget the beginning of the sentence by the time you got to the end, then that's a working memory problem. Which would clearly impact on your school work.....

Or if you can't do mental maths because it just won't all fit in your brain, but could do it fine with pencil and paper.....

mrz Wed 04-Apr-12 12:29:52

Indigo common tests of working memory involve the type of activity I suggested

Working memory assessments
All children were tested individually in a quiet place in school in two sessions within a single week. Both age groups were given two central executive tests from the Working Memory Test Battery for Children (Pickering & Gathercole, 2001): Backwards Digit Recall, and Listening Recall. They were also tested on two phonological loop measures from the same test battery: Digit Recall, and Word List Matching. The younger group also completed the Children’s Test of Nonword Repetition (Gathercole & Baddeley, 1996), a further measure of phonological loop function.
Backwards Digit Recall
In this test, children hear sequences of spoken digits, and are asked to repeat them in backwards order. Testing commences with two-digit sequences, with the length of the sequences increasing by one digit over successive blocks of trials until the child makes errors on three lists at a particular list length. At this point, testing stops.

Listening Recall
On each trial of this test, children listen to a series of sentences, judge the veracity of each in turn, and then recall the final word of the sentences in sequence. The structure of the testing including discontinuation criteria is the same as the Backwards Digit Recall test outlined above. Both raw and standard scores were recorded. The test-retest reliability of the test is 0.83 for children aged 5 to 7 years, and 0.38 for 9- to 11-year old children.

Digit Recall
This test has the same structure as the Backwards Digit Recall test, except that the children are asked to recall the digits in the same sequence to the one spoken to them (i.e. forwards) rather than in backwards order. Both raw and standard scores were recorded. The test retest reliability of the test is 0.81 for children aged 5 to 7 years, and 0.82 for 9- to 11-year old children.

IndigoBell Wed 04-Apr-12 12:40:13

Thanks mrz, that's really interesting.

I can see how the 'listening recall' test is a test of working memory - because you're asked something else and then asked what was the last word.

The EP told me that backwards digit recall was a test of working memory, and digit recall was a test of auditory memory - and I've also seen that a lot when I google.

It's also interesting that you find 'commands game' more useful than 'auditory recall game'.

1. Do you think the auditory recall game helps at all?

2. Do you think the command game helps you follow instructions because that is what it is practising? (Rather than it being a pure memory game)

3. Do you find the command game really helps?
Would you notice a difference in the classroom after doing it?
And if so, how long would you have to do the game for in order to notice a difference in the classroom?

mrz Wed 04-Apr-12 12:49:34

I think it really depends upon what the child finds difficult. The OP said her son finds instructions difficult so the command game should help but other children might be better served by using auditory games. We tend to do this type of activity as "time fillers" for the whole class as well as specific times with targeted children

EBDteacher Wed 04-Apr-12 12:52:50

We use Cogmed and Lumosity alongside a wide variety of the types of games that mrz suggests.

EBDteacher Wed 04-Apr-12 13:01:59

We also now have a music specialist who is helping our children with auditory discrimination. She teaches them tunes, sequences of notes to copy and reverse and does things like playing them three sounds and asks them to pick out which was the highest etc. It's new, but it's going well so far.

We also have serveral kids on theraputic listening programmes via our OT and we have set our SALT on working on discrimination of tone of voice. All to help with auditory processing and auditory memory.

OP, I would tentatively suggest that music lessons might help your DC (if they don't already have them).

mrz Wed 04-Apr-12 13:10:07

That's interesting EBD unfortunately I'm tone deaf so will need to twist arms of more musical colleagues

IndigoBell Wed 04-Apr-12 13:14:35

Mrz - you already refer kids for theureputac listening, don't you?

EBD - do luminosity and cogned help? How do you know? Do you see differences in class? Or only differences in working memory tests?

EBDteacher Wed 04-Apr-12 13:33:30

Well, yes, we see huge improvements in both cognition and behaviour which we track extremely carefully using both standardised and internal assessment methods. However, the children receive such a huge range of specialist input across the intervention that it would be really difficult to pick out the efficacy of just one aspect. There would be some serious ethical issues if we started adding/ removing aspects of the intervention to work out which ones made a difference.

I will say though that in most cases improvements in WM correlate to improvements in other areas. We don't have, and may never have, for the reasons above, data to say that it is a causal relationship though although it would make sense to me if it was.

IndigoBell Wed 04-Apr-12 13:44:07

Yes, I think the key is to do everything smile

I'm still not sure if you can improve working memory in isolation.

But I know you can improve it by doing lots of different things targeting different bits of the brain.

For example DDs working memory improved a lot after we improved her auditory discrimination through a listening therapy.

And now her working memory has improved again through a neuro development therapy.

So I know you can improve working memory. I just don't know whether working memory games/training help or not.

EBDteacher Wed 04-Apr-12 14:04:24

It is also counterintuitive to me that just learning to reverse increasingly lengthy strings of information could have an impact on practical functioning.

However, I do believe in frontal and prefrontal neuroplasticity and that executive function is a muscle that can be developed. We try to 'hit' that in as many ways as we can reasonably manage.

My new obsession is the role of amygdala function but that's a whole other thread.

mrz Wed 04-Apr-12 14:35:00

Yes Indigo but I'm always looking for things that will work in school

IndigoBell Wed 04-Apr-12 15:13:26

mrz - these games look interesting, and could be used in school.

I haven't tried them.

I found them recommended on this website - Berard AIT is of course the program DD had so much success with.

mrz Wed 04-Apr-12 15:17:19

Thanks I'll have a look

rakha Wed 04-Apr-12 17:47:52

Please have a look at the childrens course will help
memory improvement.

IndigoBell Wed 04-Apr-12 18:21:56

Rakha - have you used the memory course? Has it helped?

Is it designed to improve committing facts to long term memory? Or is it designed to help working memory? (or auditory or visual memory?)

rakha Wed 04-Apr-12 19:02:04

Yes it has - It teaches you skills/techniques to remember information, both working and long term memory. Try the free tests

AfricanExport Wed 04-Apr-12 22:06:15


Sorry for disappearing, it's the joy of holidays....

IndigoBell > I will look at brainFitPro and give them a go on that. They did not test for auditory memory just working. But dd has audio processing dyslexia so I suppose that doesn't help.

Mrz > The definitely did the Backwards Digit Recall and Digit Recall tests, I don't think they did a listening recall test. I think the Commands Game will work for my son and the auditory Recall Games will work for my daughter so am going to work on these during the holidays. They are nice because I think we can do them while going for a walk to the park etc. out of the house...

EBDTeacher> They are very lucky as their school is exceptional in music and have an incredible music teacher. They also have piano lessons.

Rakha > Thats I will look at

DD has been on the FastForWord programme and that improved her audiio processing quite a bit. Her working memory is better than her brothers but is still below average.

DS can hold loads of information and is the best in his class at Kimms game (exceptional according to his teacher) however if you send him upstairs to get shoes he will forget why he went up there before he even reaches the top step!

I will look at all the links and websites and get them playing that for an hour a day instead of this other nonsense.

I am also looking for games that are old fashioned and not computer games as they spend too much time on the screens anyway. Not adverse to the computer games (we are a family of IT geeks, lol) but I think that may be part of our issue. We need more time AWAY from these things..

We are looking at doing the Listening Program at the moment. I believe that rewires the brain (the plasticity concept, I believe) and that should help as well.

Thank You everyone for your responses and suggestions.

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