Working memory

I am interested in this article on working memory. I sometimes get the feeling that my short term memory is on the fritz. Got online and tried some memory tests and came out well above average. Still, that nagging sense that I’m not remembering. That I’m not seeing the whole picture. That something is falling through the cracks.

I wonder how much of this is related to multitasking day after day after day. My cognitive functions are all split up and processing multiple items at once, and perhaps the issue isn’t that my short term memory is shot, so much as that it is all so automatized that I can’t even feel it working. Yes, perhaps my brain is now numb from overstimulation.

The bottom line, though, is that I don’t really trust it/my brain/me. Surely this is a result of always having mounting piles of tasks and subtasks, with no break in between all the overlapping projects and the ridiculous number of administrative details (aka, crap).

Is this sort of thing healthy for humans? At this point, I vote no.


2 Responses

  1. Hi Tszen,
    I’ve been lurking (or, perhaps, quietly enjoying?) your blog for a while. I’m a fellow Ashtangi, currently recovering from a lapse in practice. (Ugh, I don’t recommend it!) I thought I’d chime in on your post today, because I’ve been thinking about this, too. To me, working memory is on the border of conscious and unconscious thought. Sometimes, you have to work hard to keep something in your working memory, but other times it is unconscious. In the article, the example is remembering a phone number until you dial it. Usually, remembering a number isn’t a conscious effort, but sometimes the numbers seem to fall out of my brain and I have to work hard to keep them in there! If I have too many things going and my brain is zipping around, my working memory falters and I, e.g., can’t remember the phone number (or what I walked upstairs to do). I wonder if this study means that, if I do some exercises, I can multitask more before things fall out of my brain!?
    I wonder if this has anything to do with knowing if am on my fourth or fifth Suryanamaskara A ?
    Anyway, thanks for an enjoyable and inspiring blog!

  2. Hi Wombat,

    Yes, just what I was kind of wondering — the automatic nature of some things: are they in your memory and just not readily apparent because they are in there so deep? A good example: dialing a phone number you can’t call to mind, but can automatically dial. And the poses of a series after you’ve been at it a while: they are programmed into your body, it seems.

    So now, during a particularly busy/stressful time at work, I am going along doing my thing, but there’s a nagging fear that I may just be blithely forgetting key things… On the other hand, there is a sense of mastery, of coordinating many aspects without having to be fully conscious of each individual aspect.

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