As we move into Week 2 and begin to dig deeper into cognition and learning, we see there are many important topics to discuss this week and in the weeks to follow! An intriguing topic that affects us all is that of memory. Working memory, which is often conflated with short-term memory (STM) is the topic of our forum this week. Our course materials inform us of the limited capacity of the working memory and the need to essentially flip the data processed in immediately, transferring it into a meaningful information we can use to address the issues presented. American Military University Week 2 Butterfly Memories Test Discussion
Let’s take a moment to review a great Ted Talks video with speaker Peter Doolittle (2013), who discusses the concept of working memory and how it influences our day to day activities.
The Working Memory tests linked below provide us with an excellent opportunity to test our working memory capacity!
For this week’s discussion forum, complete the Working Memory Capacity Demo provided in the link.
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- Complete at the working memory tests on each site and view/summarize your results for each.
- Share your results with the group in your initial forum post.
- Discuss how you performed on each test, noting whether your working memory capacity was significantly greater on one test over the others.
- Note why this may have been; did the course materials offer support to suggest an explanation for your results?
- Finally, share your greatest take away from the activity as it relates to your working memory capacity. American Military University Week 2 Butterfly Memories Test Discussion
Doolittle, P. (2013, June). Peter Doolittle: How your “working memory” makes sense of the world [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/peter_doolittle_how_your…
Minimum 300 words answer
I found the lesson this week and the tests to be really interesting. Here were my results:
- Digit Span Memory Test – On this test, I tended to get 6 to 7 numbers correct, but usually felt that I was guessing on a few numbers. I also had a much easier time remembering when it was on “slow” and had incredible difficulty in “reverse” mode. In these cases, I could only remember 3-4 digits accurately.
- Spatial Memory Test – On this test, I had difficulty remembering more than 3 or 4 in each test. I tried to make a mental picture to help, but I had trouble remembering the order when I was focused on the shape the pictures made.
- Butterfly Memories Test – On this test, I consistently was able to remember either 7 or 8 butterfly landing circles. I found this test to be the easiest.
- YouTube Working Memory Test – On this test, I remembered all except the last one, but did not feel confident in my answers. I was actually surprised when they were correct.
I felt the most confident about the “Butterfly Memories” test. I felt it was easiest because there were not numbers involved, and I found that having the visuals be of different colors to be helpful. I also believe that I might have a subconscious belief that I am not good with numbers. I find myself mentally “checking out” when people ask me to remember a phone number or other numbers. I think I am assuming I won’t be able to remember them, so I don’t believe I give it a full attempt. When I was following along with the TED Talk’s working memory test of remembering the objects he listed, I remembered each one with no problem. I used the memory trick of visualizing the objects alone, and then creating a mental picture that connects them.
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After reading the course materials and taking the tests, I feel that my working memory is something that definitely something that needs to be improved upon. I believe that attention is my biggest issue. I get distracted easily, and I must give everything my full attention, or my mind wanders. I enjoyed the article “Attention” from our required reading this week because it really broke down the issues that can affect our attention, which can of course affect our memory. I think it would help me to practice selective attention and truly focus fully on each task. Although I gave my full effort and focus to the tests today, I feel that in my real life I often try to divide my attention or multitask. I notice when I truly concentrate on remembering things, it is much easier to do so, especially when I use methods to try to help with this process. For example, I know that to fully understand something I am reading, I need to write down the key points, or say them out loud. If I fail to do this, I will almost certainly not remember something. Using strategies to enhance my memory such as mnemonic devices and visualizing concepts are extremely helpful. My biggest takeaway from this lesson is the value of enhancing working memory, and how much our attention affects what we are able to take in and remember.
In the first working memory test I was only able to remember up to seven numbers consistently. I initially started off trying to complete eight as the test is preset to and failed multiple times until I figured out you could lower the total. After a little bit of practice, I was able to work up to remember seven numbers but no more. For the butterfly memories working memory test I was able to remember a series of eleven colors in a row. This was the max number I could remember on a consistent basis and it also took me several tries to work my way up to this amount. Finally, in the YouTube working memory test I was only able to remember up to the third set of numbers correctly before I was completely lost. I even attempted to pause after each set of numbers and was still unable to accurately record them.
I do not think that my working memory will have performed significantly higher than others and as a matter of fact, I fear that it may have performed much lower. There may be several reasons for this: I completed the tests late in the evening after having a complete day of running, work, caring for children, etc. and I may have been tired. Another reason may be that my working memory is not that strong because I do not exercise it that often in the context of something like these tests. I also think that my brain is preoccupied with several things and this causes me to lose focus which resulted in poor working memory. My biggest take-away from these exercises is that it appears our working memory can be impacted by many different things such as fatigue and stress. Without having focus, it is very challenging to utilize working memory to its full capacity.
I completed the working memory tests and I found them to be really similar. They were both activities that challenged your ability to memorize a sequence. I was able to memorize all of the numbers on the memory loss test. Although I was a little confused on how to start the test at first, once I figured it out, I was able to accomplish the task. It reminded of a test I took in middle school that I was given by some sort a professional where I was able to memorize about 30 numbers. I surely couldn’t do that today, but I still remember it well. As for the brain curls test, I scored like the memory loss test but did not score as well because of the volume on my daughters iPad was distracting me and caused me to lose count on one of the colors. I would say my working memory capacity was not significantly greater on one test over the other simply because of how close the results were and factoring the distraction. The course material explained this when it discussed attention. I was distracted and my consciousness was pulled away from my computer and onto my daughters’ activity. My greatest take away from this activity is that short-term memory is defined as small amounts of information that is stored for a short period of time. It can be from new information or from a memory that has been previously stored. Working memory is somewhat alike short-term memory but different because working memory allows us to complete tasks associated with the working memory like memorizing a number with helping us solve a mathematical problem during a meeting. Another example is creating a running tally at a grocery store. Those who have a high working memory capacity are able to store higher items in their short-term memory for their working capacity. American Military University Week 2 Butterfly Memories Test Discussion
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