Processing and Memory

VISUAL PROCESSING

Visual Processing

Technical Definition

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Visual Processing is the ability to generate, perceive, analyze, synthesize, manipulate, transform, and
think with visual patterns and stimuli. It includes the ability to perceive and manipulate visual patterns
rapidly or to maintain orientation with respect to objects in space; the ability to manipulate objects or
visual patterns mentally and to “see” how they would appear under altered conditions; the ability to
combine disconnected, vague, or partially obscured visual stimuli or patterns quickly into a meaningful
whole, without knowing in advance what the pattern is. It also includes the ability to survey a spatial
field or pattern accurately and quickly, and identify a path through the visual field or pattern; the ability
to form and store mental representations or images of visual stimulus and then recognize or recall it
later; the ability to identify a visual pattern embedded in a complex visual array, when knowing in
advance what the pattern is; and the ability to identify a pictorial or visual pattern when parts of the
pattern are presented rapidly in order.

Visual processing is an individual’s ability to think about visual patterns and visual stimuli (e.g., What is
the shortest route from your house to school?). This type of cognitive processing ability also involves
the ability to generate, perceive, analyze, synthesize, manipulate, and transform visual patterns and
stimuli (e.g., Draw a picture of how this shape would look if I turned it upside-down.). Additionally,
examples of this type of ability include putting puzzles together, completing a maze, and interpreting
graphs or charts.

Math: Visual Processing may be important for tasks that require abstract reasoning or mathematical
skills.

SHORT-TERM MEMORY

Short-Term Memory

Technical Definition

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Short-term memory is the ability to apprehend and hold information in immediate awareness and then
use it within a few seconds. Working memory, a subcomponent of short-term memory, includes the
ability to attend to and immediately recall temporally ordered elements in corrected order after a single
presentation, as well as the ability to store temporarily and perform a set of cognitive operations on
information that requires divided attention.

Short-term memory is the ability to hold information in one’s mind and then use it within a few seconds.
A component of short-term memory is working memory. Working memory relates to an individual’s
ability to attend to verbally- or visually-presented information, to process information in memory, and
then to formulate a response. Difficulties with working memory may make the processing of complex
information more time-consuming, draining a student’s mental energies more quickly and perhaps
result in more frequent errors on a variety of tasks.

Reading: Short-term memory is important to reading achievement. Reading comprehension, involving
long reading passages, may be affected by skills specifically related to working memory. Basic word
reading may be impacted by deficits in short-term memory because it may interfere with acquiring letter and word identification skills.
Math: Short-term memory is important to math computation skills. For example, deficits in short-term
memory may impact one’s ability to remember a sequence of orally presented steps required to solve
long math problems (i.e., first multiply, then add, then subtract).
Written Expression: Short-term memory is important to writing. Memory span is especially important
to spelling skills, where working memory has shown relations with advanced writing skills (e.g., written
expression).
Oral Language: A student with short-term memory deficits may have problems following oral directions
because they are unable to retain the information long enough to be acted upon. A student with short-term memory deficits also may have problems with oral expression because of difficulties with word-find or being unable to retain information long enough to verbally express it.

LONG-TERM RETRIEVAL

Long – Term Retrieval

Technical Definition

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Long-term retrieval is the ability to store information (e.g., concepts, ideas, items or names) in long-term
memory and to retrieve it later fluently through association. It includes the ability to recall part of a
previously learned unrelated pair of items when the other part is presented (i.e., paired-associative
learning); the ability to produce rapidly a series of ideas, words, or phrases related to specific conditions
or objects; the ability to draw or sketch several examples or elaborations rapidly when given a starting
visual stimulus; and the ability to produce names for concepts rapidly. It also includes the ability to
recall as many unrelated items as possible in any order after a large collection of items is presented;
and the ability to recall a set of items where there is a meaningful relationship between items or the
items create a meaningful connected discourse.

Long-term retrieval refers to an individual’s ability to take and store a variety of information (e.g., ideas,
names, concepts) in one’s mind, and then later retrieve it quickly and easily at a later time using
association. This ability does not represent what is stored in long-term memory. Rather, it represents
the process of storing and retrieving information.

Reading: Long-term retrieval abilities are particularly important for reading. For example, elementary
school children who have difficulty naming objects or categories of objects rapidly may have difficulty in
reading. Associative memory abilities also play a role in reading achievement (i.e., being able to
associate a letter shape to its name and its sound).Math: Long-term retrieval abilities are important to math calculation skills. For example, students with
deficits in long-term retrieval may have difficulty recalling basic addition, subtraction, multiplication,
and/or division facts when encountered within a math problem.
Written Expression: Long-term retrieval abilities and naming facility in particular have demonstrated
relations with written expression, primarily with the fluency aspect of writing.

AUDITORY PROCESSING

Auditory Processing

Technical Definition

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Auditory processing is the ability to perceive, analyze, and synthesize patterns among auditory stimuli.
It includes the ability to process sounds, as in identifying, isolating, and analyzing sounds; the ability to
process speech sounds, as in identifying, isolating, and blending or synthesizing sounds; and the ability
to detect differences in speech sounds under conditions of little distraction or distortion.

Auditory processing refers to the ability to perceive, analyze, and synthesize a variety of auditory stimuli
(e.g., sounds).

Reading: Auditory processing or “phonological awareness/processing” is very important to reading
achievement or reading development. Students who have difficulty with processing auditory stimuli
may experience problems with learning grapheme-to-phoneme correspondence, reading non-sense
words, and decoding words due to an inability to segment, analyze, and synthesize speech sounds.
Older students will usually have continued problems with decoding unfamiliar words.
Written Expression: Auditory processing is also very important for both writing skills and written
expression. Students who are weak in auditory processing abilities may have difficulty spelling since
this skill requires the ability to attend to the detailed sequence of sounds in words.
Oral Language: Auditory processing deficits may be linked to academic difficulties with listening
comprehension. Students may have difficulty interpreting lectures, under-standing oral directions, and
learning a foreign language.

PROCESSING SPEED

Processing Speed

Technical Definition

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Processing speed is the ability to perform cognitive tasks fluently and automatically, especially when
under pressure to maintain focused attention and concentration. It includes the ability to search for and
compare visual symbols rapidly, when presented side-by-side or separated in a visual field; the ability
to perform tests that are relatively easy or that require very simple decisions rapidly; and the ability to
manipulate and deal with numbers rapidly and accurately.

Processing speed provides a measure of an individual’s ability to process simple or routine visual
information quickly and effectively and to quickly perform tasks based on that information. When
information is processed slowly, competing stimuli in immediate awareness may cause overload stress
on short-term memory. Tasks that involve multiple, complex processes can be particularly confusing
and frustrating. Completing tests and assignments within the usual time constraints can also be
difficult even when the student has adequate skills and knowledge.

eading: Perceptual speed is important during all school years, particularly the elementary school
years. Slow processing speed may impact upon reasoning skills since the basic rapid process of
symbols (e.g., letters) is often necessary for fluent reading.
Math: Processing speed is important to math achievement during all school years, particularly the
elementary school years. Slow processing speed leads to a lack of automaticity in basic math
operations (e.g., addition, subtraction, and multiplication).
Written Expression: Perceptual speed is important during all school years for basic writing and related
to all ages for written expression.