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  • Get access to a complete battery of cognitive tests to assess visual short-term memory

  • Identify and assess the presence of alterations or deficits

  • Validated instruments to improve or rehabilitate visual short-term memory and other cognitive skills

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What is visual short-term memory?

Visual short-term memory (VSTM) is the ability to retain a small amount of visual information (letters, shapes, colors, etc.) over a short period of time. This type of memory is part of our short-term memory (STM). The information that we retain from visual short-term memory can be either be worked by working memory, it can go on to create long-term memory, or it can simply be forgotten.

Examples of visual short-term memory

  • Visual short-term memory makes it possible to retain the visual information that we receive, which may be note-taking or reading, which requires that we remember the visual information (letters and words) that we read, in order to understand it as a whole. Without this cognitive ability, it would make reading very difficult, or even impossible, which would likely have significant affects on academic performance.
  • Visual short-term memory plays a big role in driving as well, as it allows you to remember traffic signs and keep an eye on the cars around you. If you remember that a black SUV was to your right, you'll have a much better chance of avoiding a collision with it later.
  • Most jobs and careers also require an appropriate level of visual short-term memory. In many cases, you may be responsible for reading or writing a report, in which case you would have to remember the words in order to give them context. The more visual the job (architect, designer, painter, etc.), the more necessary this cognitive ability will be.
  • If you pass someone on the street, your visual short-term memory will remember their face for a period of time. It's normal to take a few seconds to remember a face if it's been a while since you've seen them. If you were able to recognize your old math teacher after a few seconds, you have your visual short-term memory to thank for giving you the extra time to remember the face.

Disorders and problems associated with visual short-term memory

Any damage to visual short-term memory may reduce the time and amount of information that you are able to retain. However, the different types of memory are independent, which means that damage to VSTM wouldn't necessarily affect other memory processes. The different types of memory generally work together as a single set, and without damage to any specific memory process, it would be difficult to tell where one ends and another begins. However, damage to one of these types of memory makes it impossible for the brain to carry out its function, and could significantly affect daily life.

Visual short-term memory can be damaged by a variety of different circumstances. There may be a deterioration of visual short-term memory in cases of moderate Alzheimer's. An alteration in this cognitive skill may also play an important role in dyslexia, as it has the ability to exacerbate the reading problem by making it more difficult to remember the words on the page while reading. Visual short-term memory has also been shown to be affected by marijuana. Finally, brain damage caused by stroke, or by cranioencephalic trauma may also alter visual short-term memory.

How can you measure and evaluate visual short-term memory?

Visual short-term memory plays an active role in our daily lives. VSTM makes it possible to process any information that isn't directly in front of you, which is why understanding and assessing visual short-term memory can be helpful in a variety of areas. Academics: Helps a parent or teacher understand if a child may have learning difficulties, trouble reading, or difficulty understanding long written explanations. Clinical areas: Helps understand if a patient is able to drive safely, and know whether it is important to give clear or less complex visual instructions. Professional: Makes it possible to know if an employee can handle a job that requires reading or visual content.

CogniFit's complete neuropsychological assessment makes it possible to assess and evaluate visual short-term memory, as well as a number of other cognitive abilities. CogniFit uses the classic Direct and Indirect Digits Test from the Wechsler Memory Scale, the NEPSY from Korkman, Kirk and Kemp (1998), the Continuous Performance Test (CPT), the Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM), the Hooper Visual Organization Task (VOT), Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA), and the Tower or London (TOL) test. Not only do these tasks measure visual short-term memory, they also measure short-term memory, reaction time, working memory, visual scanning, spatial perception, contextual memory, cognitive flexibility, naming, recognition, and processing speed.

  • Identification Test COM-NAM: In this task, objects are presented either as a sound or an image. The user will have to determine how the object was presented (sound or image), or if it hasn't yet been presented.
  • Concentration Test VISMEM-PLAN: Stimuli on the screen will illuminate and play a sound in a certain order. As the stimuli is being presented, the user must pay close attention so that they will be able to repeat it in the same order that it was presented.
  • Recognition Test WOM-REST: Three objects will appear on the screen. The user will have to memorize the order in which these objects appear in order to choose the correct order out of four different options.
  • Recovery Test VISMEM: Images will appear on the screen for five or six seconds. During this time, the user must try to remember the most amount of information possible about the image. After this time, the image will disappear and the user will have to choose which was previously shown form a variety of options.

How can you improve visual short-term memory?

CogniFit offers the ability to train visual short-term memory, along with other cognitive skills, with a professional tool designed to be used by individuals and professionals.

The visual short-term memory brain training program uses the study of neuroplasticity as scientific basis. CogniFit offers a battery of clinical exercises designed to help improve and rehabilitate the problems with VSTM and other cognitive functions. The brain and its neural connections will get stronger as they are used and trained, which is why frequently training visual short-term memory will help rehabilitate this and other cognitive skills. Improving this skill will help make the connections quicker and more efficient, which will make it possible to do tasks that require visual short-term memory better than before.

The CogniFit team is made up professionals in the field of synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis, and is how the personalized cognitive stimulation program was created to meet the needs of each user. This program starts with a comprehensive assessment of visual short-term memory and other fundamental cognitive functions. With the results from this initial assessment, the personalized cognitive stimulation program will automatically offer a training program to help train the user's weakest cognitive skills.

Consistency and adequate training are the essential to a successful visual short-term memory training program. CogniFit has assessments and rehabilitation programs to help optimize this cognitive function. This program only requires 15 minutes a day, two or three times a week.

CogniFit's brain training games and exercises are available online and on mobile devices. There is a wide range of interactive activities and games that can be played on a computer, phone, or tablet. After each session, CogniFit will provide a detailed graph of the user's cognitive progress.

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