I Might Have A Bad Memory – Sophia Kovalcik


For the entirety of my childhood, most of my adolescence, and my current young-adult life, I have dealt with memory problems. Early on in my life, my poor working memory and executive functioning primarily showed up in an educational setting. I would read, and then re-read paragraphs or definitions and have little to no recall of the information. Nowadays, its more of a social issue. I find myself asking my friends a random question about their lives much too often, sometimes even multiple times a week. I also get lost easily, even in familiar environments. In short, having a poor memory will definitely impact one’s ability to retain information that plays in sequences. After learning about the episodic buffer in class, I wondered if my working memory, central executive or, and more specifically my episodic buffer process, are manipulated by my ADHD diagnosis. 

A study conducted via both the Department of Psychology at Florida State University and University of Mississippi Medical Center Department of Pediatrics, focused on the episodic buffer component of working memory in children with ADHD. The study defines working memory as “a limited capacity, multicomponent system that serves a critical role in planning and guiding everyday behavior.” The episodic buffer defined in this study as a part of memory that is elicited when information from multiple modalities must be compiled and stored as a single chunk of information.

Why is this process so important? According to this study, day-to-day activities of individuals are likely to rely on the episodic buffer. For example, linking a name of a building with a physical location is important if someone like myself needs to remember a complex route to the library. The episodes buffer helps when integrating what someone is saying and their non-verbal body language, or when I have to follow multiple steps of a lab procedure. 

The study was conducted across multiple testing days. A sample of 86 children (ages 8– 13) with ADHD and without ADHD were told to complete three working memory tests. These tests were the same in all aspects except for the key process: phonological, visuospatial, and episodic buffer. The episodic buffer working memory task combined the phonological and visuospatial tasks. Children were shown a series of numbers and a letter that appeared in visuospatial squares. Children were told to remember the spatial location of each number or letter. They then were instructed to reorder the numbers in ascending order and put the letter last. Thus, the episodic buffer test required the children to connect the phonological, which were the numbers and letters, with visuospatial elements (the location each appearing number or letter). 

The results of this study indicated that that adding episodic buffer demands resulted in decreased accuracy for both groups. The ADHD group of children  demonstrated similarly large deficits on all three tasks. Thus, their performance deficits on the episodic buffer task can be better explained by their overall executive function deficits, rather than a unique problem with the episodic buffer. Therefore, learning about this study reconfirmed that a poor memory has its effects on the day-to-day lives of those who have ADHD. It also showed me that my episodic buffer works closely both working memory and central executive functions  🙂  

2 thoughts on “I Might Have A Bad Memory – Sophia Kovalcik

  1. kpender2

    I love how you used your own personal example in this article. My brothers have add and adhd so it’s really cool to get some insight into their mindsets and thought processes. I found it extremely interesting how it has affected even just the simplest of tasks.

    1. sophiakovalcik22 Post author

      Yeah sometimes it gets easier as someone who has ADHD gets older, but there is a constant reminder in day to day life that we have to approach things differently, in a way. As for myself, I find myself holding onto childhood memories of when I would struggle with simple learning tasks, and I am trying to redefine myself apart from those memories. I wonder what It would have been like to have been a neurotypical child. 🙂

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