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Can Working Memory Be Improved

By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Programs to improve working memory for students are among the “hottest’ new education interventions. SharpBrains, a market research firm estimates that from 2005-2009, the worldwide market for brain-fitness software rose 31%, $148 million in the US.

The question is – do they translate into greater problem solving ability, academic achievement or intelligence?

Research has shown that a child’s working memory naturally increases as he or she ages and that adults who practice tasks can improve memory, but does it increase brain power?

After examining 23 studies, researchers at the University of London have shown that visual and verbal memory can improve in the short run; but nine months later, there was no evidence of verbal memory gain and limited evidence that visual-spatial memory remained.

We all want better memories; however Sarah D. Sparks in a June 12th Education Week article, “Studies Dispute Benefits of Brain Testing,” reports that despite the rise in interest and commerce in the field, many products have limited validation and make confusing claims.

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