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  #1  
Old 06-17-13, 02:59 AM
Nyxness Nyxness is offline
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ADHD and memory

Warning: This post turned out a lot longer than I intended, so feel free to just briefly skim it and skip to my real question. =P

I'm a soon-to-be-graduated high school student, and I was diagnosed in February with ADHD. I know ADHD is associated with problems with working memory, but most of what I'm reading says it is not associated with problems with long-term memory. But I'm not sure what qualifies as a working memory problem vs. long-term, and if my problems are associated with ADHD or not. Like, I know I have working memory problems, but I also have other memory issues that may or may not have anything to do with working memory. Like, I have a hard time remembering things that happened a long time ago (or even a short time ago) on my own, but if reminded then I can remember them. The problem isn't with whether I remember it or not, but retrieving the memory, I suppose. It's the same with books or movies; I can never recall the characters' names or the plot unless prompted, even books or movies I enjoyed. Other people I know can remember details of things a lot better and a lot longer than I can.

I do well on multiple-choice tests, where I suppose the "retrieving" of the information is done for me and it's just the recollection for which I'm responsible. Conversely, I do poorly on timed essays (for example, in English class on novels we've read) where I'm not allowed to use any outside materials, because I take too long just trying to remember enough about the subject to write about, even though I'm not bad at writing (don't take this post as an example; I'm not trying to write perfectly here. =P). Writing essays at home, where I can look things up, or taking the tests my English teacher sometimes gave where we were given a quote from the novel and had to discuss the context, I do fine. Or giving presentations: if I don't have notes, I forget everything I mean to discuss and stumble through it. I'm quite intelligent, very logical, I do well in school. I say all this not to brag (certainly, if what I'm bad at isn't my fault and can be attributed to something innate like ADHD, then what I'm good at is also nothing to brag about because it's similarly related to my innate characteristics and not necessarily correlated with effort), but to provide context: basically, it's a problem with certain types of memory, not intelligence or comprehension. I'm in the top 10% of my class in high school (from which I graduate on Friday), and have the highest SAT scores (perfect scores in 2 of the sections, near-perfect in the third) in the whole class of 700+ students. But it feels as though those accomplishments are in spite of my poor memory, not because of it. I can think concepts through and understand them very well, albeit sometimes slowly, but I can't always remember it; instead, I have to retrace my steps and repeat whatever thought processes brought me to understanding in the first place. Which, I think, is why I do so well on something like the SATs, which to me seem to be based more on logical processing rather than prior memory, and every question is about thinking it through rather than remembering a specific fact (they require recollection of math concepts, but only basic math concepts that I suppose are permanently ingrained in my mind at this point, and formulas are provided), but failed multiple tests in AP Chemistry, where everything depended on my being able to recall things quickly, with not enough time to logically think it all through, and very few multiple-choice questions.

The part of this that bothers me most, though, is recalling my past. Whenever anybody else is telling interesting stories of things that have happened to them, I can't remember anything similar; I just draw a blank on anything interesting that's happened at any point in my life. Just can't bring it to mind, even if it's in my memory somewhere. Which is kind of sad, to never be able to remember any of the great things that have happened in my life when my present life becomes upsetting, or to not be able to remember things I've done with others who have died or in places from which I've moved on. I'm particularly worried about starting college in the fall, that I might simply not be able to recall much of my childhood (I already can't, really, in comparison to most people). It makes it feel like it was all wasted. Even what I can bring to mind is just general situations (like remembering that my friends at summer camp in 2010 all decided to shun me, or remembering that doing stage crew for the school musical this year is the best thing I've ever done) but not any details (like any specific conversations with those friends that summer, or all the little things that made being on stage crew so amazing). I can remember very few tiny, specific images (flipping off the ringleader of my camp friends, or dancing in the wings with my assistant stage manager during one of the songs in the musical), but only very few, without surrounding context or a scene I can place them in, and frequently even these elude me. Or I remember that I went to summer camp for 5 years and that I was on stage crew for the musical in March, but not very many details or stories about what happened. And this isn't just for stuff that happened a long time ago (although that's most pronounced). I already can't remember half of what we talked about at the party I went to yesterday. And so my whole life seems kind of bland, without the details to color it. I like keeping a journal, because then I can write something down while I still remember the important details of it and look back on that if I can't remember it later, but I'm very bad about keeping up with writing in it; the last entry in my journal is from months ago.

So are these sort of problems common for people with ADHD, or is it just a case of me personally having a poor memory? Or do most people have problems like this, even though it seems like everybody else remembers things better than I do?
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Old 06-17-13, 05:39 AM
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Re: ADHD and memory

The whole 'long term memory isn't affected in ADHD' concerns me too. And you've raised some good points too.

I've always felt I've had a much worse memory than most despite my ability to recall up facts, although it a very summarized way. I suppose it makes me more bearable than my AS brethren when I talk to non-AS people. Although it did require a lot of training to learn how to sum everything up.

Like you I'm good at recalling logic in my summarized fashion. It's like I can memorize just the right amount of information all within small chunks.

I now wonder though...because as a child I was predominately Inattentive and very much in my own world that I must have missed out on a lot things that were happening around me.

Memories of events in my life are like short video clips. Sometimes one memory is cut up into even short clips and it's all sort of pasted together.

I don't know why I've got such a bad long term memory. I'm autistic too so I should have a really rich long term memory. So if it's not ADHD...then what?

But I'm used to having to constantly revise those topics I like. Physics (a mainstream understanding of it at least) is easy to learn over again because all the books and documentaries just repeat the same thing.

I'm pretty knowledgeable with my interests even if I can't retain as much information about them as other people with autism can about theirs.

Keeping a journal is good. I have finally been able to make myself write in one more or less everyday. I just have to write in it straight after dinner. It's more to offload some thoughts of the day, so it's part therapy too.

I find taking photos helps too.

I don't think it's an 'every person' thing because I'm always finding I remember less than most people. Meds do help me to a degree but it still hasn't stopped me from going from being frustrated to making jokes at my own expense about it.
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Old 06-17-13, 01:29 PM
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Re: ADHD and memory

I have wondered about that same issue. If long term memory is supposedly unaffected by ADHD, how is that possible, if our working memories are like sieves?

One explanation would be that for Barkley, the "intake" aspect of working memory is not part of ADHD. He sees the inattentives that do have intake problems as a separate disorder. Or at least he did in the material by him I have read.

One of the tasks of working memory is to be instrumental in retrieving material from long term memory. And yes, recognition on multiple choice is considered easier than the recall needed for essay exams. So that would be how Barkley understands working memory issues with ADHD. With him, the disorder is a performance problem, not an intake problem.

That would clearly not be the case with people who use different models for understanding ADHD.

When therapists work on childhood memories, they will often begin with factual information that almost everybody does recall, such as the name of your elementary school, or the address of the house you lived in when such and such happened. Even if you don't remember those answers, the question itself is designed to trigger any memories you do have, and then those factual memories become richer and start touching emotional memories.

I have noticed lately I have a really bad working memory intake problem with things my talk therapist told me, but really didn't. One of them for sure, she has convincing counter evidence. But most of the working memory articles I have found deal with artificial tasks that can be measured. But I am wondering about the use of working memory in interpersonal relationships, has that ever been examined? There might be a clinical article on "When a client misremembers something . . . ."

So, when you go to college and take psychology, ask the prof about it for us all, please.
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Old 06-17-13, 02:30 PM
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Re: ADHD and memory

I've often wondered how you can determine the exact rate of how much somebody recalls in regarding long term memory because it can be so different from diagnosed person to person. I try not to foucs on so much what these specialists say and more so on my experience as a ADHD person for 44 years. There are certain long term memories that I do remember that really aren't significant and probably wouldn't be remembered by any person diagnosed or not. Why did I remember them, I don't know, for what ever reason at that time of my life, it was left an impression.
Otherwise I'm much the same as you. I missed out on so many specific details of my life because at the time of those events, for whatever reason, my mind did not hold on to the memory. Also, it changes as you get older. Because I know that memory is a weakness for me, so I have developed resources to help me so I can rememebr details. Journals, pictures and video, really focusing hard to take in the moment and ensure that I set new events in in my memory. So if you asked me today, I would say long term memory isn't a problem. If you asked me 10 years ago, I would tell you it's a serious problem. So in terms of professionals and their statistics, how can we be sure just how accurate they are?

One of the good things with me and ADHD is it has always allowed me the ability to remember exactly how I felt at any given time. Whether I was depressed, stimulated, lost. So today, I have a good idea of what works for me and whether if makes me feel better or not.

Thats why for me I just can't focus on studies and statistics because they really never helped me. The best treatment I have ever had for treating my ADHD, is me. Accepting it, making the effort to do the best I can, and staying positive the best way I know how and refusing to give up. Thats just my opinion.
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Old 06-27-13, 11:23 PM
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Re: ADHD and memory

I think some of it could be fracturedstory's idea that part of it is a result of being inattentive, and so I miss a lot of what's happening around me and therefore can't remember it later. A lot of the time when I'm reading I suddenly realize I haven't really been absorbing or paying attention to what I've been reading and have to go back and re-read, so it could be that when I can't remember the plot of a story later, it's just because I never really absorbed it to begin with. But at the same time, like I said, I can remember certain things when prompted by others, but simply cannot recall them on my own, which implies that in those instances it isn't a problem with not having absorbed it in the first place.
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Old 06-28-13, 12:38 AM
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Re: ADHD and memory

I was told during my ADHD testing that I had a really good "spit-back" memory - I think there's an actual name for it but I (ironically) can't remember right now, so that's how I think of it. It's like I have to hold information in a more immediate part of my memory in order to spit it back out. If it stays in that space for more than a few seconds, it's gone. For example, if someone tells me to remember a phone number, I can repeat it back to them a second later well enough (if I was paying attention). But if someone told me to remember a few digits and then asked me a couple of minutes later, and it would be completely gone.

My memory also works differently with different types of information. I have a really good memory for things I read, but a very poor visual memory (ask me to recall a scene from a movie I saw yesterday and I probably wouldn't be able to. ask me my favorite line from Hamlet? No problem).

My personal memory is definitely weird, but I wouldn't say it's bad. It's just that I remember odd details, and forget things that other people might find important. I barely remember some birthdays and vacations, but vividly recall specific, ordinary conversations.

Have you thought about writing things down more informally than a journal? I keep silly notes on my phone - mostly quotes of dumb things my friends say, but sometimes if I'm having strong emotions in a certain moment, I'll just jot down a couple of notes on them. A recent one was simply something along the lines of, "Going out for lunch in Nikki's car with the windows down. Purple trees outside. Feed Me playing on the stereo." Just little details that instantly bring back that particular scene for me.
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Old 06-28-13, 12:58 AM
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Re: ADHD and memory

selective memory
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Old 06-28-13, 01:28 AM
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Re: ADHD and memory

I developed ways to remember things that are important to me.

I remember birthdays and anniversaries and events better than most. And I keep a calendar.

When I am at work, however, I can't remember sh*t without my notes/workpapers. Its amazing howit all pulls together. As in better than most NT people.

And I can learn new things too that are applied to work. Because I have to.
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Old 06-28-13, 01:42 AM
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Re: ADHD and memory

Haven't read the other responses yet, but to the original poster- don't sweat it.

I think "recall" is hard for most people with ADHD, and when you couple that with a poor attention span, it's impossible - at least for me to think on the spot when people ask me questions.

This actually happened to me two days ago, at a lunch party at work (I work at a mortgage firm). I was asked what my favorite memory was as a child - couldn't come up with a darn thing. Said something really generic, because I could not recall anything specific that was relevant or interesting, despite having an interesting life.

Don't sweat it. Sure, we don't seem smart during these social situations. Oh well. You're clearly very intelligent and have excellent writing skills for someone your age. I am 24 years old, halfway through graduate school and am still extremely socially awkward. I am *just starting to learn how to not interrupt others in conversation, and getting a tiny bit better at reading body language and picking up on social cues.

Try to stay positive, do your best, and whatever you do - don't be hard on yourself (trust me, your life will be plenty challenging on its own). Take care,
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Old 06-28-13, 04:30 AM
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Re: ADHD and memory

Thought I'd re-post these as I think it's relevant and kinda entertaining.

See if you guys/and gals can get pi to 10 decimal places (2nd video).















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Old 06-28-13, 05:21 PM
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Re: ADHD and memory

Very very interesting watched them all.
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Old 06-28-13, 06:36 PM
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Re: ADHD and memory

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Very very interesting watched them all.
Thanks. If you enjoyed those then you may like this (his book is one of the few I've bothered re-reading).

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Old 06-30-13, 09:18 AM
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Re: ADHD and memory

Ha I actually stumbled upon that one myself after watching those vids. I'm actually going to try and learn this- this was something that I had stumbled upon in the past and had put off/ forgotten about
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Old 06-30-13, 09:47 AM
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Re: ADHD and memory

Yes. It's all pretty interesting stuff. I think the general rule is that it still requires effort to learn these techniques but may be worth it, alongside our usual study skills we use.

If you get a chance, check out Josh Foers book 'Moonwalking With Einstein' mentioned in the second video. I really enjoyed this book and it gives a very readable and comprehensive account of these memory experts as well as the work of psychologists working in the fascinating field of memory, and also has some funny parts to it also.

Also, 'How to Develop a Brilliant Memory Week by Week' by Dominic O' Brien (from the first videos) and books by Tony Buzan (there are lots). You can find these 2nd hand on amazon quite cheap if your local library doesn't stock them', and also most of this information will be on the internet somewhere anyway.

Not sure why this information is not more widely known as it's well known Adhd can cause problems with learning due to memory problems, and it seems that any techniques/strategies to help with our memories/retention may be beneficial to us (and anyone else for that matter).
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Old 06-30-13, 10:38 AM
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Re: ADHD and memory

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Originally Posted by Adduce View Post

Also, 'How to Develop a Brilliant Memory Week by Week' by Dominic O' Brien (from the first videos) and books by Tony Buzan (there are lots). You can find these 2nd hand on amazon quite cheap if your local library doesn't stock them', and also most of this information will be on the internet somewhere anyway.

.

Just noticed that the copy I got 2nd hand online stinks of cigarette smoke, so if you can afford new buy new
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