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Transcript: Torkel Klingberg on Improving Working Memory Capacity

Torkel Klingberg at TEDxNorrköping

Here is the full transcript of cognitive neuroscience professor Torkel Klingberg’s TEDx Talk: Improving Working Memory Capacity at TEDxNorrköping.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Improving working memory capacity – Torkel Klingberg – TEDxNorrköping

Torkel Klingberg – Professor of cognitive neuroscience at the Stockholm Brain Institute

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the situation when you walk into a room, then you stare into the wall, and then you think, “Why did I walk into this room?” So you had a plan, right, just a few seconds ago, you had a plan of what to do next, but somehow you lost it.

So there is a special kind of memory that’s supposed to keep plans like that in mind, and it’s called working memory. It’s a very useful kind of memory. You use it not only to remember plans and instructions, but you also use it to keep in mind relevant information when you solve problems. So it’s very important for mathematical problem solving, and it is also closely related to attention. So one way to put that is you need to remember what to focus on.

I’m going to illustrate that by testing your working memory here. So your task here is to remember where this person is pointing so that you can point at the same boxes in the same order, OK?

OK, so now you’re keeping information in working memory, four positions, so that you can do something based on that information, right? Easy enough. Let’s have another one. So the same task: remember where this person points. Any volunteers here, in the first row? So that’s a bit harder. So this illustrates the key problem here, and the key problem is that working memory is limited. Capacity to store information is limited.

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