Executive Dysfunction
Return to Your Brain’s GPS Is Glitchy: Why Working Memory Fails and How to Bolster It

Your Brain’s GPS Is Glitchy: Why Working Memory Fails and How to Bolster It

Verbal and non-verbal working memory are two of your seven executive functions. They are also the essential batteries powering what Dr. Russell Barkley calls your brain’s GPS system — the one that keeps you on track, on time, and in control. Here, learn why ADHD brains so frequently struggle in these areas and what you can do to lighten your cognitive load.

7 Comments: Your Brain’s GPS Is Glitchy: Why Working Memory Fails and How to Bolster It

  1. Evernote works well for me, syncs between multiple devices.
    Also a pad to write on, trying a notebook with color coded plastic folders.

  2. I use both methods to help remind me. I leave written notes of to-do lists in conspicuous places such as my bathroom sink where I’m sure to see them at least twice a day, and line out items that I’ve completed on it. I also take a picture of lists and other things I’ll need when I go out to get groceries, run errands, even the list of meds and procedures that I have to provide to the doctors’ offices every single time I have an appointment. With these kinds of lists, I often have both hard copy and notes/photos on my phone as I’m sure you know I’ll set the paper down somewhere never to be seen again! Different things work for different people; don’t discount any technique to help get you through the day.

  3. For what it’s worth, I am using OneNote on my iPad now to blend a paper feel with the digital benefits of not losing anything. In OneNote, I use my Apple Pencil to write on sections that look like paper in OneNote. I sometimes transfer my written notes into the more structured planner section of OneNote. I also use photos on my phone in a separate album, usually transferring the information into OneNote.
    I find that writing with the Apple Pencil is a similar enough experience to actual paper and pen for me. And I use all kinds of stickers and doodles.

  4. I agree with the other comment. Things written on paper get lost. It’s easiest not to write anything down and instead to take a picture with your iPhone. If you can take one more step and store important photos in a “album”, this helps. Your can have someone type one page with your important info, take a photo and put it in the album. Other than that, explain to people you have ADHD and learn to ask for help and reminders such as text reminders for appointments. Realize you are going to lose slot of things and forget slot of appointments. Have a duplicate license and keys. Lastly, forgive yourself as it’s going to happen!!

  5. I understand and like the idea behind paper, but it’s actually the easier one to lose since it’s not synced/backed up (though one could take pictures to sync). Or for that matter to not have on you in a given moment or to forget when you leave for work.

  6. I feel like I’m on the edge of having an anxiety meltdown, and here’s why. I do not understand the article…like, at all. I feel as though the sentences are too long for me to get what is being said. If an article is being written for people who have this learning disability called ADHD, shouldn’t the authors use simpler wording? For instance, I still don’t understand this: “When a brain is storing and synthesizing both types of working memory effectively, it begins to work a lot like Waze or Google Maps — determining the relevance of new information as it arrives and altering the plan in real time to get us to our destination better or faster.” Altering what plan? What destination? Another thing. Don’t mention that there are seven things and only explain two. “Executive function is so taxing, in part, because it comprises seven distinct brain activities — two of which are verbal working memory and non-verbal working memory (which hinges on visual and spatial acumen).” First of all, what the hell is he saying? Secondly, while I’m trying to read the rest of the article my brain is saying “What are the other five?” It’s moments like I’m having right now that make me feel absolutely hopeless.

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