Working Memory Exercises

Working memory exercises are different from exercises for your long-term memory. Your working memory is what you’re using when you’re holding pieces of information in your head at one time. Different theories note different levels for working memory, but most scientists think you can only hold between two and five chunks of information in your working memory at once.

Luckily, there are some ways that you can improve the capacity of your working memory through working memory exercises. Many are fun exercises that you can do on a daily basis. Working memory exercises may help increase your functional intelligence, since smart people are often those who can process and connect lots of information at the same time. Here are some working memory exercises to help you improve this important part of your memory, starting today:

  • Get a Simon Game: The Simon games are a little like old-fashioned Simon Says, and they help with working memory by training you to repeat visual and auditory patterns quickly under pressure. The game basically moves at a fast pace and gives you a pattern that you repeat by hitting the buttons in a certain order. Working memory exercises like these help you learn to chunk information into bigger pieces so you can remember more at a time.For instance, the pattern might start off red, blue. Those are two separate pieces of information at the moment, but they’ll get more complex. Next, it might go red, blue, yellow, blue. Eventually, you’ll probably start seeing the original “red, blue” as one chunk of information. When you can group four or five steps of the pattern into one chunk of information, you’ll be able to follow Simon for a whole lot longer.
  • Repeat Songs in Your Head: This is one of the simplest working memory exercises that you probably already do every day when you get a song “stuck” in your head. Listen to a new song, and try to repeat it in your head. This helps you with rehearsal skills, which are essential to short term or working memory. Listen to a new song on the way to work every day, and see how much of the song you can repeat in your head after having listened to it once or twice.
  • Play Concentration: This is another classic kids’ game that you can play when you’re looking for working memory exercises. You can play with actual concentration cards or a regular deck of cards as long as you have two of everything. Lay down the cards face down, and start flipping them up two at a time. Try to get matches as soon as possible by flipping up two of the same card at the same time.Playing concentration with kids is fun, but you can also play alone. Use this as one of your regular working memory exercises by gradually increasing the number of cards you play with as you go. This can help improve your ability to hold the locations of several cards in your head at once as you flip up their matches.

Working memory exercises can be practiced on a regular basis to help you improve your working memory. You don’t have to do these types of working memory exercises all day long, but you can also improve your working memory by trying to remember things about your surroundings while you’re eating, memorizing small lists or phone numbers right before you need to use them, and rehearsing information to yourself as you transfer it to long term memory storage.