I stumbled up on this article about working memory.

Within a table of indicators of good or poor working memory, it listed the following for adult working memory:

Indicators that a working memory needs exercise

  • Frequently late to work
  • Often underestimates time required for a task
  • Has problems breaking a project into manageable steps
  • Often loses temper with children and spouse

It is the last point:

  • Often loses temper with children and spouse

This brings me to the question:

Are there studies examining the relationship between working memory and emotion?
If so what are the results?


Working memory and other aspects of executive function (attention, for instance) are linked. There is evidence that improving self control improves emotional outbursts (see article below). So, improving working memory should improve self control, which should prevent emotional outbursts.

See: Denson, T. F., Capper, M. M., Oaten, M., Friese, M., & Schofield, T. P. (2011). Self-control training decreases aggression in response to provocation in aggressive individuals. Journal of Research in Personality, 45(2), 252–256. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2011.02.001


My husband and I have Traumatic Brain Injury and Cognitive difficulties. All of the points above describe us. The most difficult obstacle is the last, loosing temper with spouse. The statistics state "that in a marriage where one partner receives TBI 80% of them fail. When both are involved it is said they physically hurt or kill each other. Six years into the TBI we still struggle. Emotions and memory are both disturbed when the Frontal lobe is damaged. Therefore both working memory and emotions are related by their location. If a person has a deficit in working memory they are easily agitated and therefor emotional. Assuming you are only considering the loss of temper emotion that would be disrupted by lack of memory. You also only point out children and spouse which are most often the target of a familiar relationship and therefor spend much time in each others presence. A reminder of the retirement syndrome, where age creates memory difficulties and stresses a relationship due to 24/7 time on hands and usually spent with those mentioned. Fact is I can blame my memory difficulties on age. Emotions are generated by unhappiness and memory,or loss of,creates unhappiness. Executive functions are stored closely and related by area and therefor improving one of either would improve the other by definition of the area stored and malfunction in either or that area. There are other characteristics like retention for instance that may cause some of the points noted and time management or staying on task also apathy which may case " who gives a care" at the moment. This is my hypothesis.


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