Tracy Packiam Alloway Working Memory And Dyslexia

I am pleased to introduce you to our latest guest writer, working memory expert, Dr Tracy Packiam Alloway.  Tracy is a psychologist, author and consultant with a specialism in working memory.

Working memory is described 'as the part of short-term memory which is concerned with immediate conscious perceptual and linguistic processing'.
Dr Tracy Packiam Alloway

Tracy explores the links between having dyslexia and working memory ability from childhood to adult.

Tracy writes...

There is a shift in the deficits driving reading difficulties from childhood to adulthood. While children with dyslexia find it hard to process the sounds of the word, adults with dyslexia struggled more with integrating the sounds with the meanings of the words.
There is great heterogeneity in the adult dyslexic profile. In some cases, there can be a working memory deficit, while other dyslexic adults may not even show any evidence of working memory deficits. For example, in my research I compared working memory skills of college students with reading difficulties and those normal reading skills.

Here are some of the findings that college students can use to support study habits:

• Adults with dyslexia did not exhibit poor verbal working memory skills.

It is possible that these adults did not demonstrate any working memory deficits because they had developed their phonological skills well enough to not require working memory. However, it may be more efficient to rely on your strengths in visual memory to maximize your study time.

• Adults with dyslexia used their strengths in visual working memory to maintain attention to a task.

Study tips:
·         Visualize the information as you read it
·         Make sure the information is written down rather than relying on your memory of it
·         Report the information in a visually interesting manner, using images of graphs

Additional classroom strategies to support working memory in the classroom for the student with dyslexia can be found in Understanding Working Memory

Tracy Packian Alloway
Research Article:
Alloway, T.P., Wootan, S., & Deane, P. (2014). Investigating Working Memory and Sustained Attention in Dyslexic Adults. International Journal of Educational Research, 67, 11-17. 

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