ADHD & Forgetfulness: Does ADHD affect your memory?

ADHD and forgetfulness often go hand in hand. The ADHD impact on memory is linked to a deficiency in overall executive functioning. ADHD can impair the ability to solve complex problems, control emotions, and access information from working memory. Individuals with ADHD often navigate a unique set of cognitive challenges. Working memory is particularly affected. [i]

Research indicates that individuals with ADHD are four times more likely to experience working memory problems. Impairment in working memory can manifest in various aspects of daily life, from forgetfulness in routine tasks to inability to follow a series of verbal instructions and reading comprehension and retention. This obviously produces difficulties in academic or professional settings. [ii]

For decades, the Drake Institute has used advanced treatment technologies to create customized treatment protocols for patients with ADHD, Autism, and other neurophysical disorders. Brain map-guided neurofeedback and neurostimulation help our ADHD patients reduce symptoms and lead better lives.

For more information about how the Drake Institute treats ADHD and several other neurophysical disorders, please fill out the consultation form or call us at 800-700-4233.

How does ADHD affect memory?

ADHD can significantly influence various aspects of memory. Working memory is a component of executive functioning, the set of cognitive processes that enable individuals to manage and regulate their thoughts, actions, and emotions. The challenges around ADHD memory recall revolve around sustained focus and concentration, working memory, and long-term memory.

Working memory

Working memory, a critical facet of cognitive function, tends to be particularly affected by ADHD. Individuals with ADHD and working memory challenges may struggle with the real-time processing, storage, and retention of information, and then utilizing that information in completing tasks. This can manifest as difficulties in following multi-step directions, reading comprehension, and retention, keeping track of ongoing tasks, and maintaining focus during complex cognitive tasks. [iii] [iv]

The executive functioning deficits associated with ADHD, including deficits in working memory contribute to these challenges in working memory, impacting an individual’s ability to navigate the demands of daily life seamlessly.

Long-term memory

ADHD can make it difficult to remember information stored over extended periods. The distractibility symptoms of ADHD may interfere with an ADHD individual’s ability to take in information and store it so it can be utilized in subsequent tasks.

So, does ADHD cause memory loss? No. In the case of ADHD, it’s more likely that the information was never stored in memory to begin with. [v]

Tips for managing ADHD’s impact on memory

To reduce memory problems and other ADHD symptoms, including executive functioning, we suggest seeking clinical treatment with brain map-guided neurofeedback, and sometimes, adjunctively neurostimulation. These treatments can optimize healthier brain functioning, which leads to a reduction of symptoms and an improved life experience. At the Drake Institute, we have had ADHD patients who by the completion of their treatment program no longer meet diagnostic criteria for an ADHD diagnosis.

In addition to clinical treatment, we recommend the following supportive strategies:

Organize your day

Organizing daily tasks and responsibilities can provide a structured framework that helps individuals with ADHD manage their memory challenges. Using planners, digital calendars, alarms, or to-do lists can assist in breaking down large tasks into manageable components, reducing the working memory load and enhancing overall organization.

Engage in positive self-talk

Cultivating a positive internal dialogue is a powerful tool for individuals with ADHD. Positive self-talk can help counteract feelings of frustration or self-doubt related to memory challenges. Encouraging oneself and acknowledging small successes can contribute to a more supportive mental environment.

Create a space for your important items

Designing specific spaces for frequently used items, such as keys, wallets, or important documents, can streamline daily routines and reduce the likelihood of forgetfulness. Consistency in item placement creates a visual memory cue, making it easier to remember where essential items are located.

Create visual reminders

Visual aids can be highly effective in reinforcing memory. Using visual reminders, such as post-it notes, color-coded calendars, or digital reminders, provides a visual cue that complements verbal or written information. This dual reinforcement can enhance memory recall.

Build a routine

Establishing and sticking to a daily routine can help individuals with ADHD memory problems. A predictable routine creates a sense of order and familiarity, which makes it easier to remember and execute daily tasks. Consistency in routine also supports the development of positive habits over time.

Ask for help remembering things

Seeking support from friends, family, or colleagues can be a proactive strategy to managing ADHD and memory deficits. Communicating about memory challenges and asking for reminders when needed can foster a supportive environment. This collaborative approach can ease the burden of memory management.

Get plenty of sleep

Adequate sleep is essential for overall cognitive function, including memory. Establishing a consistent sleep routine and creating a conducive sleep environment supports optimal brain function, helping individuals with ADHD manage memory challenges more effectively.

Engage in stress-reducing activities

Stress can exacerbate memory difficulties for individuals with ADHD. Engaging in stress-reducing activities, such as mindfulness, meditation, or pleasurable hobbies, can contribute to a calmer mental state. Reduced stress levels positively impact memory and overall cognitive performance.

How to tell if it is ADHD that’s causing memory problems

Several key indicators can help individuals determine if ADHD is a contributing factor to their memory challenges.

Some common symptoms of ADHD include persistent difficulties in focusing, sustained attention, task completion, and staying organized. Individuals with ADHD may find it challenging to follow through on tasks, leading to forgetfulness and incomplete daily tasks. Frequent distractibility and a tendency to overlook details are often seen in ADHD-related memory issues. [vi]

What else causes memory loss?

It’s possible sometimes that memory loss in adults may have an organic cause.

Memory loss is a complex phenomenon with connections to other causes beyond ADHD. For example, mental health issues like stress, trauma, and depression can affect the way the brain stores and accesses information. Physical issues, too, can affect memory, particularly a lack of sleep. Menopause has also been identified as affecting memory, and sometimes with thyroid disorders. Memory loss can be expected in the geriatric population as people age.

Beyond mental and physical contributors, substances can have a significant impact on memory loss. Alcohol and drug use are linked to memory problems, alongside prescription medications like antidepressants, antihistamines, narcotic painkillers, and various other medications. [vii]

How the Drake Institute Treats ADHD

Over the last 40 years, the Drake Institute has clinically pioneered the use of advanced treatment technologies to treat a variety of brain-based medical disorders such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, PTSD, anxiety, panic disorder, depression, insomnia, and more. Using a combination of brain map-guided neurofeedback and sometimes neurostimulation, our Medical Director creates customized treatment protocols to address each patient's needs.

Brain Mapping

To develop our individualized treatment plans, we first complete a qEEG brain map analysis for each patient. Brain mapping helps us identify which specific regions or networks of the brain are dysregulated linked to symptoms.

To collect this data, 19 sensors are placed around the scalp in areas of the brain responsible for language, focus, memory, executive functioning, social/emotional understanding, and behavioral/emotional regulation. The 19 sensors measure and record brainwave activity that is processed through a normative database of neurotypical individuals.

When we compare the patient's results with those of neurotypical individuals, we can identify regions or networks of the brain that are dysregulated and causing symptoms. This information also allows us to determine how these areas are dysregulated so that we can develop specific treatment protocols that help improve brain functioning and reduce symptoms.


During neurofeedback training/treatment, sensors are once again placed on the scalp. The sensors record and display instantaneous brainwave activity visually in real-time on a computer screen with simultaneous auditory feedback as well.

During neurofeedback sessions, the patient is seeing the results of how their brain is working and with this information, they learn to improve their brainwave activity by guiding it toward healthier, more appropriately functional brainwave patterns.

We do not administer any drugs or perform invasive procedures during this process. Instead, the patient is improving their own brain functioning, guided by visual and auditory feedback.


As an adjunct to neurofeedback, we may also use neurostimulation guided by qEEG brain map findings to gently stimulate the brain into healthier functional patterns. In our experience, some patients may benefit even more from neurofeedback if we also use neurostimulation. We have found this particularly helpful for lower-functioning children on the Autism Spectrum.

Contact The Drake Institute Today!

In the last forty years, Drake has helped thousands of patients with various disorders such as autism, ADHD, PTSD, anxiety, panic disorder, depression, insomnia, migraine headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and hypertension reduce or resolve their symptoms and thereby achieve a better quality of life. Call us at 1-800-700-4233 or fill out the free consultation form to get started.









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“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

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