Beyond the lab
After the very promising success of his early research studies, Klingberg and his team decided to found Cogmed in 2001 appointing Jonas Jendi as the CEO and president. The goal of the company was to take the training methodology that was so effective in the laboratory and make it work in every day life. “There had been a lot of hype about brain training,” says Jendi. “We chose to set a new standard by never making claims that exceeded what had already been shown in serious, peer-reviewed research.” In fact, the company was so committed to ensuring that the training be effective, they spent two full years refining their approach before launching the first commercial program in Sweden in 2003. During the years prior to launching the program, the Cogmed team made improvements to the software but more importantly, they developed a distinct coaching methodology to ensure that students who begin the five-week program see it through to completion. These efforts paid off tremendously, dramatically improving compliance and winning the praise of healthcare professionals. Since the Cogmed program first became available in 2003, 90 percent of users who have started training complete the program. The rate of compliance has remained high over several years due to the ongoing input that Cogmed welcomes from researchers, psychologists, neuroscientists and users. When Cogmed first became available in Sweden in 2003 there was understandably broad skepticism. The approach was unlike anything that people had seen before and the claim – to alter the brain in just five weeks – sometimes seemed too good to be true. As with the research, the first clinical trainings focused on children with attention problems, including many who had been diagnosed with ADHD. Cogmed’s team of psychologists worked closely with the first users, coaching them through the program and offering encouragement. The results were astounding. “We knew about the powerful impact of the training from the research studies,” said Jonas Jendi. “But to hear about the benefits from the end-users themselves was so much more colorful because they could talk about it in very personal and specific ways – it was thrilling to hear their stories.” Parent after parent related accounts of boys and girls whose behavior dramatically changed after training: He remembers to bring his books home from school and turn in his homework – without being asked. Her room used to be a disaster but she’s begun to self organize. Grades improved, teachers were stunned and many students found it easier to relate with their peers and make friends. Over the course of the next three years hundreds of students in Sweden completed the training. The overall results were consistent with the research findings. More than eighty percent experienced significant improvements in daily life. By 2005, the Swedish phenomenon was drawing interest from around the world, especially from the U.S. The results showed that the training had substantially impacted working memory.