A working memory hero on duty
Have you ever walked from one room to another to realize that you have forgotten what you were up to? Yet when you retrace your steps, your previous intention magically pops up in mind again? Or have you ever forgotten your keys, your car or even your kids on a busy day? All of this relates to working memory and, more specifically, to what we can and cannot do with it.
The four components of working memory
Working memory is part of our conscious awareness at any given time of day and has four components. In the first place, it allows us to store our immediate experiences and a little bit of knowledge. Secondly, working memory plays a key role in processing different types of information, such as visual and auditory information. Moreover, it allows us to reach back to our long-term memory and retrieve previously stored information. Finally, working memory processes this previously stored information in the perspective of our current goal. For instance, you are using your working memory abilities right now, while reading and thinking about this text!
Working memory on the job
Working memory capacity is our ability to take what we know and what we can hang on to and leverage it in a way that allows us to satisfy our current goal. The current goal isn’t something like “I want that job” or “I want to be the best soccer player of all time”. It’s rather mundane, like “I like that job opening” or “ I want to get that ball”. We tend to maintain 4 up to 10 things in working memory, which we are subsequently able to use for about 10-20 seconds. Working memory is associated with a lot of positive effects on overall performance. People with a high working memory capacity tend to be better story tellers, recognize patterns easily more easily and usually perform well on standardized tests (e.g. IQ, SAT).
Working memory: on the cutting edge
It is important to take working memory performance into account when assessing someone’s cognitive abilities. For instance, at some jobs it’s important to have a large working memory capacity. Think about, for example, a stock broker who needs to connect many streams of information to come up with new strategies in order to make as much profit as possible. Or think about someone who is in the sales-department and has to convince clients to buy their product. This grand finale, the orchestration of all the working memory activities together, determines if the sale will be a success or not. By assessing working memory (and other cognitive abilities), it is possible to assess someone’s true abilities, which can be a valuable aid when trying finding the right employee for the job.
Spiderman: a working memory hero on duty
A character that we expect to possess of extraordinary working memory skills is the Marvel cartoon hero “Spiderman”. Spiderman is able to keep an extreme amount of information in his working memory with a microscopic level of detail. This enables him to experience the world around him when needed in slow motion. These abilities would make Spiderman a perfect candidate for the job as stock broker. This is of course just fiction and far from reality but it is a nice example of how good working memory abilities can help you in everyday life.
Are you interested in the possibilities of measuring the cognitive abilities of your employees, or do you want to recruit the perfect candidate for the job based on their true natural abilities? Find the Spiderman for your position! Click here!