I started a fascinating course on learning how to learn. The advice is based on the latest research in neuroscience, and is excellent if you’re interested in improving how you think and learn, and in how the brain works.

This week, the lectures are about Renaissance learning. We now know how our minds process memory, and how it coordinates working memory and long term memory. The amount of slots in a person’s working memory is also known. This varies, of course, but according to the course, it’s about four slots. Some people have more, some have less. How we access our working memory also varies.

Einstellung Tight Working Memory, ADHD, Creativity, and Learning

A. Tight and focused working memory

Creative Working Memory, ADHD, Creativity, and Learning

B. Diffused working memory

People with Type A working memory have better focus and memory, allowing them to quickly and efficiently solve difficult problems. People with Type B working memory have a more diffused approached towards processing new information and may take longer than Type As to learn new things. The upside though is that a person with a more diffused approach towards assimilating new information will be more creative during their learning.

A wonderful article in Scientific American, “The Creative Gifts of ADHD” illuminate the differences:

Despite their reduced working memory, 53% of the academically advanced students with ADHD characteristics scored above the 70th percentile on the creativity index. In fact, for both the ADHD and the non-ADHD group of students, the poorer the working memory, the higher the creativity!

Another great finding:

People with ADHD often are able to focus better than others when they are deeply engaged in an activity that is personally meaningful to them.

This research has been particularly meaningful to me as I’ve often felt I was trying gain understanding and apply new knowledge in a way that was not suitable to my personality. I have a tendency to pack in my days too tight with all the things I want to do, even things I’m not particularly interested in but had decided is ‘good for me’ and get extremely upset when my mind simply can’t cope. There have been many times I wish I had Type A focus. But, as is evidence from the findings – when one door closes, another opens!