I explained the concept of executive functions. Governed by the frontal lobe, these cognitive processes include selective attention, working memory, set shifting, and self-regulation.

They encompass our ability to organize, make decisions, plan, manage time, regulate mood, and learn from our mistakes—integral parts of our daily functioning.

The CEO of the Brain

The executive functions can be likened to a CEO. They allow us to process incoming information, plan, and distribute tasks effectively. But to dive deeper, let's focus on a vital component: working memory.

Decoding Working Memory

Working memory plays a pivotal role in our cognitive system. It's part of the trio, which also includes short-term and long-term memory. From a functional perspective, working memory relies heavily on our attentional capacity.

It's near impossible to remember something if it hasn't captured our attention first.

The Process of Memory Formation

When we pay attention to something, we begin to form a memory. Our senses feed information into a temporary holding area in the brain. Imagine it as a computer temporarily storing data until we decide to hit 'save.' If deemed important, the information transitions from working memory to short-term memory.

senior spells dementia in letter box

The Limits and Assessment of Working Memory

It's essential to recognize that a normal working memory spans only about 15 to 30 seconds. For those with dementia or cognitive issues, this duration is even shorter. Most people can hold and manipulate only one to four pieces of information at a time.

Practical Applications and Quick Tests

A practical example of using working memory is the frustrating two-step verification codes we all encounter. We hold the code in our memory just long enough to input it elsewhere before discarding it.

Curious about your working memory? Try spelling "WORLD" backwards or reciting the days of the week in reverse. For a numerical challenge, attempt serial subtractions, like 7 from 100, continuously subtracting 7 from the result.

Open Slots for Cognitive Screening

I've opened some slots in my schedule for quick cognitive screenings. It's a brief process but can offer valuable insights into cognitive health. If you or a loved one is experiencing thinking problems and would like a screening, just comment "cognition" below.

There is Hope

Remember, cognitive abilities are not static; they fluctuate daily. There are numerous ways to prevent cognitive decline, reverse it if present, and enhance thinking abilities. If you're concerned about cognitive health, don't hesitate to reach out. I founded Think Different Dementia to change perspectives and foster hope.

If a quick screening sounds helpful, comment "cognition," and I'll follow up with you. Here's to better understanding and improving our cognitive health. Have a fabulous day!

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About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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