Auditory Memory

Hands-on Learning Games: The Ins and Outs of Auditory Memory

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What is Auditory Memory?

Auditory memory is simply the ability to remember what you hear. It can refer to speech, music, or any other sound that makes it’s way up to your eardrums and to the proper centers in your brain.

Auditory memory is critical to your child’s success both at home and at school. It is what allows him to remember that he has to feed the fish, take out the garbage, and wash his hands before he sits down to eat dinner.

He also exercises his auditory memory when his teacher asks the class to put away their math books, take out their science workbook, and sit with their hands folded on the desk until she calls them.

Auditory memory is made up of three parts: short-term memory, active working memory, and long-term memory. Short-term memory is, as the name implies, information that lasts for only a short period of time.

You might use it when you call information for a number, and then hanging up quickly, try to dial the number you heard before it slips out of your head.

Short-term memory can hold only a very small amount of information: 7 bits of information plus or minus 2. That means that the average person can hold anywhere from 5 to 9 bits of information in their heads at a time.

This is one reason why telephone numbers started out as 7 numbers.

If you would like to hold onto the information for longer than a few seconds, you’ll need to find some way to transfer it into your long-term memory. Long-term memory is like the hard drive on your computer. It is permanently stored in your brain, barring accident, infection, or other misfortune.

However, just as with your computer, you must be careful to file the information in a way that it can be easily retrieved. You would find it impossible to find a file if you stored all of your documents as individual folders.

Instead, you automatically file all of your vacation ideas in one folder, your plans for the upcoming Bar Mitzvah in another, and your ideas for a new project at work in another. This makes the information much easier to store and to find.

The last type of auditory memory is active-working memory. It allows you to hold a piece of information in your mind even if you are in the middle of doing something else.

Some children, for example, find it difficult to write a book report and remember how to spell properly, and remember the technicalities of grammar. If you have ever walked to a room to get something, and then forgotten what it is you wanted, then you too have experienced a blip in your active working memory.

Can I improve my child’s auditory memory?

Most people think possessing a good auditory memory is a lot like having auburn hair and green eyes; that’s just the package they were given, and other than some surface changes, there isn’t much to do about it if you’re stuck with mousy brown hair and dishwater brown eyes.

However, while someone can be born with a better auditory memory, it is really a skill that can be improved quite dramatically if you use the proper techniques.

Stay tuned for my next post on fun games you can use to help improve your child's auditory memory.



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  • Rachel Dec 12,2012 at 12:45 pm

    Hi Jeanne! Thanks for commenting.

    As I said in the article, most programs don’t address improving auditory memory, they only try and compensate. And as I found out with my son, and the rest of my learning disabled children, they can only take you so far. Since they don’t really take care of the problem at the root, you have to spend too much time trying to play catch-up later on, when a bunch of other higher level learning skills related to auditory learning become necessary for your child to master.

    Actually what would help you is what I have at the top of my blog, the one with the picture of the little girl, asking if you want a free brain-training game.

    It’s actually the very program that I used to help my kids do well in school. I searched for years until I found it, and since then I’ve been revising it every so often to make it even better.

    That’s the good news. The bad news is that I’ve since taken it down; if you try the link, it won’t work. That’s because I think many people would initially prefer some easy hands on learning games that they can print out and play with their child – even though this is what really works. It’s not a hard program to do, but it does require you to be consistent, and set aside about 20 minutes 3-4 times a week to work with your child.

    If you’re willing to make the commitment to do it, though, I’ll be happy to send it to you, and you can get all the help you need from me in the forum. Just e-mail me at, and let me know.

  • Jeanne Kennedy Dec 11,2012 at 6:11 am

    My child has been diagnosed with ADHD coupled with an auditory processing disorder and a signfiicant memory deficit. Her poor auditory memory is impairing all aspects of her learning and she is struggling greatly in reading and math. The school is really not providing services that target in on her weaknesses (she gets Resource Room and S/L but it is not 1-1 and the instruction is not specifically targeting her weaknesses; to boot she does not qualify for reading even though she is 2 grade levels behind…they offer Wilson, not LindaMood Bell, and her problem is in comprehension/higher order thinking). Please help if you can. Thank you.

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