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Working Memory

Working memory is the ability to transiently keep information in the brain until it can be processed into longterm memory, and person's with high working memory capacities are said to have a 'steel trap' mind. Some supplements may improve working memory in particular.

Research analysis led by Kamal Patel.
All content reviewed by the Examine.com Team. Published: Jul 5, 2013
Last Updated:

Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what supplements affect working memory
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-b Minor Very High See all 5 studies
An improvement in working memory is noted in most persons tested, even otherwise healthy and nonfatigued controls.
grade-b - Very High See all 3 studies
Despite the improvement in short term memory and recall, there does not appear to be a significant improvement in working memory.
grade-c Minor - See study
Immediate recall appears to be increased from D-serine when 2.1g is supplemented 2 hours prior to testing.
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
Appears to preserve working memory during acute stressors without inherently having a memory boosting effect
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
Acute working memory is decreased in new users of marijuana while under the influence, but during marijuana tolerance this hindering effect does not appear to persist.
grade-c Minor - See study
Memory acquisition appears to be mildly increased in the range of 18-31% in persons with poorer performance on a word recollection memory test, but is not improved in high performers.
grade-c Minor - See study
Improvement in working memory may be due to improved attention
grade-c Minor - See study
BT-11 appears to have some efficacy in improving immediate recall in otherwise healthy adults, although it did not have this efficacy in short term recall (cued or free)
grade-c - - See study
No significant improvement in working memory
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
In otherwise cognitively well subjects, working memory does not appear to be increased in response to cocoa flavanol ingestion.
grade-c - - See study
Insufficient evidence to support an increase in working memory
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence appears to exist on working memory associated with lemon balm
grade-c - - See study
Despite improvements in logical memory and 30 minute recall, digit span tests are not affected by supplementation of nigella sativa.
grade-d Minor - See study
A possible small effect has been noted in one study in people with cognitive impairment but needs to be replicated.
grade-d - - See study
grade-d - - See study
Working memory does not appear to be influenced with the aroma of peppermint