ADHD, Memory, and Depression

Education building 768x473An interesting study done at the University of North Florida, published last year by Tracy Packiam Alloway and John C. Horton in the Journal of Applied Psychology, explores the relationship between our ability to encode, store and retrieve data, and how we regulate our emotions. They assert that Working Memory plays a role in our coping with negative life events. “There is a growing body of research supporting the role of working memory in emotional regulation. We know that those with clinical depression have difficulties in suppressing irrelevant negative information, while those with high working memory are able to ignore negative emotions,” said Alloway.
This presents families dealing with ADHD with a unique clue.

We know that ADHD is often comorbid with depression, and that depression is often a cause for irritable “acting out.” But, this study shows that if we are able to attain a higher working memory, then we also gain a more optimistic view of the future. Not only does working memory come to define a person who can remember phone numbers, or which word to use in a sentence, or the steps in a series of instructions, it also means that a person with higher working memory may be happier as well.
Another study, this one in Stockholm authored by Torkel Klingberg, reminds us of the value of our brain’s neuroplasticity, and “that it (Working Memory) can be improved by adaptive and extended training.” Play Attention’s Working Memory module is designed to train this aspect of our brains. This simple, fun memory game encourages students to remember the locations of positive and negative conditions on the map, while maintaining attention. transferring this skill to everyday tasks can be aided by using Play Attention’s Academic Bridge module. It’s important to remember that skill training for the brain, especially for working memory, may not be permanent, but with the proper encouragement and persistence, with positive reinforcement, those habits learned while training contribute to a student’s on going success.
You may have some anecdotal evidence of this. As users of the Play Attention system, and specifically our Working Memory training module, have you experienced a heightened, positive mood in conjunction with your student’s increased working memory functioning? If you would like to join the conversation, follow us on Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you!