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Transcript: Torkel Klingberg on Improving Working Memory Capacity

The third question is: does it matter? Does it matter for people in everyday life? One thing that does matter is remembering plans and instructions, and we and others have now actually measured how long instructions can a child keep in mind and perform accurately, and does it change, and it does. So children going through the working memory training, they can now remember longer instructions.

Another way to look at usefulness is actually asking parents and teachers about symptoms in everyday life, the behavior of the children in everyday life, about inattentiveness and if they can follow instructions.

Here we are looking at 13 studies that did that. So they get inattentive symptoms in the group doing the training and how that changes, and in the control group and how that changes, and then comparing them. If there was no effect at all, you would see a little green dot precisely at the line here. But as you see, the green dots, they end up consistently to the left, meaning here that you have a reduction of inattention in the training. And if you add this up, you can see that this reduction is around half a standard deviation, which is pretty good.

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So we published the first working memory training study 12 years ago. Now there are more than a hundred studies published on different aspects of working memory training. We will know — we will continue to learn about how to do the working memory training, what’s the most effective way to do this. But we already see that there is an effect, that it is useful in practice.

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And now, we have more than 50,000 children that have benefited from working memory training in more than 20 different countries. So the science tells us about the effects, but it’s also interesting to hear from the children, and here are some comments. One says that, “Now I can remember what the teacher says.” Another, “Before, I couldn’t find my stuff. I could be looking for two days! Now I can find them at once”, or, “I can sit and shut out the noise from around. When I read, I can focus; before, I couldn’t do that.”

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So this training does not solve all the problems that these children might have, but it helps them keep focused, it helps them keeping a plan in mind, and that’s a good start.

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Thank you.

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By Pangambam S

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