Memory Difficulties in Students with Learning Disabilities

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

There are three types of memory that are essential to process information: working memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. In this lesson, we will define the three memory types and discuss their effects on learning.

Three Types of Memory

Can you still remember the words to your favorite song in high school? Does it amaze you that you have so many strong memories from so long ago, but you can't remember where you put your car keys? There are three different types of memories that serve different functions. Let's examine these three types of memory and the effect that memory problems might have on your students.

Short-term Memory

Short-term memory is where information is processed. It is believed that short-term memory can hold only about seven pieces of information at a time. Further, short-term memory can hold the memories for less than a minute before they are either lost or transferred to long-term memory.

For example, when someone tells you a phone number, you can keep that information in short-term memory only long enough to store it in your contacts list before it is lost, but certain phone numbers, such as your phone number, will transfer to long-term memory so that it can be retrieved as needed.

Auditory processing disorders, language processing disorders, dyscalculia, and dyslexia are examples of learning problems that stem from short-term memory problems.

Working Memory

Working memory is related to short-term memory but consists only of the pieces of information that are retained long enough to finish an immediate thought or task. Have you ever walked into a room and then forgotten why you went there? That is an example of a lapse in working memory.

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