Working Memory Activities - Printable & Digital

Working memory (WM) is a vital cognitive function that helps us process information, make decisions, and learn effectively. It is a primary function we use every day. In this article, we will explore what working memory is, its components, and, most importantly, how you may enhance it through engaging activities.


What is Working Memory?

Working memory is a cognitive system that allows us to hold and manipulate information temporarily. Think of it as your brain’s workspace where you actively process data for various mental tasks. It’s like your mental notepad, where you jot down and perform mental operations on important information.


Here are 7 Working Memory Activities:

Working memory may be improved and strengthened through targeted activities. Here are some engaging exercises that may boost your client’s cognitive skills:

1.) Memory Exercises: Our library of memory exercises has something for everyone. From verbal memory exercises to visual memory, engaging with our exercises may improve your working memory. Check out our library →

2.) Dual N-Back Training: This cognitive training task involves remembering visual and auditory stimuli sequences. It has been found to enhance working memory capacity. Our exercise, Two-timing, is based on this style of exercise. Give it a try here →


3.) Meditation and Mindfulness: Practicing meditation and mindfulness may improve attention control, a vital aspect of working memory.


4.) Chunking: Break down complex information into smaller, manageable chunks may ease the cognitive load on your working memory.


5.) Visualization: Engage in activities that require mental visualization, such as mental mapping, storytelling, or imagining familiar places. Try our digital exercise, An American in Paris →


6.) Listening to Music: Listen to classical or instrumental music, which may positively impact working memory and concentration. 


7.) Worksheets: Worksheets are a great way to practice your memory without looking at a computer screen. Some people enjoy doing sudoku puzzles, while others enjoy memory-focused worksheets.


How Does Working Memory Operate?

Components of Working Memory

Working memory consists of three main components: The Phonological Loop, the Visuospatial Sketchpad, and the Central Executive. 

Phonological Loop (inner voice)

The phonological loop is the system that obtains information from either written or spoken language. It has two distinct parts: the phonological store and the articulatory control process. These parts work independently from each other but share information.


The phonological store is the inner ear; it stores information that is heard for a few seconds. This is where verbal short-term memories are held during a conversation.


The articulatory control process. This inner voice interprets and rehearses the information from the phonological store. It is used during a conversation in constructing and producing the words. You are currently using it while you read this page.

Visuospatial Sketchpad (inner eye)

The visuospatial sketchpad encodes and stores visual and spatial information. This means it stores objects, images, and visual-spatial information. Spatial information refers to the way people know their location in relation to other objects. For example, visuospatial sketchpad allows people to remember that they have a water cup next to them or where they parked their car. 

Central Executive

This component acts, directs attention, and coordinates the processed sensory information. It plays a crucial role in task-switching and decision-making. It is essentially the filter and the brain’s manager. 

Importance of Working Memory

Strong working memory is crucial for academic performance, problem-solving abilities, and daily functioning. It helps children learn in the classroom, professionals make strategic decisions, and individuals operate daily living. Still don’t believe us? Here are some of the ways we use working memory on the daily. 

    1. Learning and Problem Solving: WM allows us to hold and process information relevant to a task or problem. It’s essential for activities like reading comprehension, mathematical calculations, and understanding complex concepts. When learning new information or solving problems, we use it to keep track of relevant details and make connections between different pieces of information.

    2. Attention and Focus:  WM helps us maintain focus on a task by holding relevant information in mind while filtering out distractions. This is particularly important in today’s world, where we are constantly bombarded with information from various sources.

    3. Language Processing: Language comprehension and production rely heavily on working memory. When we listen to someone speaking, we need to hold onto the beginning of a sentence while processing its later parts to understand the full meaning. Similarly, constructing sentences during speech or writing involves manipulating words and grammar rules in real-time, which requires working memory resources.

    4. Decision Making: Making decisions often involves considering multiple factors and evaluating potential outcomes. WM enables us to hold different pieces of information about the options, weigh their pros and cons, and ultimately arrive at a decision.

    5. Planning and Execution: When planning a sequence of actions, WM helps us keep track of the steps we need to take. For example, following a recipe, assembling furniture, or even navigating through a complex environment all rely on the ability to hold and manipulate relevant information.

    6. Creativity: Creative thinking involves making connections between seemingly unrelated ideas or concepts. Working memory plays a role in maintaining these diverse elements in mind while exploring novel ways to combine them.

    7. Learning and Academic Performance: Working memory is closely linked to academic success. Students with better working memory tend to have an easier time grasping new concepts, following instructions, and recalling information during exams.

    8. Daily Functioning: Many routine activities, such as remembering a phone number long enough to dial it or following a set of directions to reach a destination, depend on working memory.

    9. Problematic Conditions: Working memory deficits are often observed in individuals with conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, and some neurological disorders. Understanding and addressing working memory issues can lead to improved functioning and quality of life for these individuals.


  • Working memory is essential for encoding sensory information 
  • The visuospatial sketchpad is our ability to temporarily hold visual and spatial memory, while the phonological loop temporarily holds verbal information.
  • There are many ways to strengthen our working memory, and we should all try and strength our working memory. 

Interested in trying our digital tools?

Pulling from our decades of experience in Cognitive Therapeutics, we aim to help you enrich your practice through the use of digital and paper tools.