Scientific discovery that “working memory” can be improved leads to computerized intervention for children, adolescents with attention deficits; more than 80 percent of participants of Cogmed Working Memory TrainingTM see lasting positive effects after five weeks
Naperville, Ill., April 2, 2007—A research-validated program focused on training “working memory” to improve attention deficits is now being offered in the U.S. Cogmed Working Memory Training TM was originally developed in Sweden by Cogmed, a pioneer in neurotechnology and a developer of software-based working memory training products. More than 1,400 children and adults have conducted the training in Europe, with 80 percent achieving significant improvement in attention, impulse control, problem solving skills and academic performance.
“The discovery that working memory can be targeted and trained is tremendous news for children and adults who suffer from attention deficits,” said Jonas Jendi, Cogmed’s chief executive officer. “Individuals with poor working memory struggle to perform key cognitive functions, such as maintaining focus, remembering instructions and completing tasks. Training working memory can jump-start this critical function of the brain, reduce the symptoms of attention deficits and lead to improvements in complex reasoning and academic achievement.”
Cogmed Working Memory Training features a video-game software through which children and adolescents participate in specialized working memory exercises. Children train for approximately 30 minutes, five days a week over five weeks. The training process is led by a personal coach who works with the parents and the child to develop a reward system and provide encouragement. Coaching support is telephone and Internet-based, and the training is done at home. Cogmed has trained more than 20 wellrespected professional psychology and medical practices in the U.S. to deliver Cogmed Working Memory Training.
Several prominent U.S. research institutions—including Notre Dame, Harvard and New York University— are conducting independent validation studies on Cogmed Working Memory Training. Dr. Bradley Gibson, associate professor of psychology at Notre Dame, trained 12 middle school children in the spring of 2006. Gibson found significant improvements of both working memory and other executive functions, and significant decreases in inattention.
“Cogmed has successfully translated current scientific knowledge about neuro-cognitive dysfunctions in ADHD into a clinically effective intervention tool,” said Gibson. “Our own empirical studies have demonstrated that working memory training can indeed have a positive effect on other high-level cognitive abilities which in turn can lead to a reduction in the symptoms of ADHD. These benefits have been observed by both parents and teachers in our studies.”
The Cogmed Working Memory Training program was developed by a team of brain researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute led by Torkel Klingberg, a professor of neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute and a Cogmed founder, who is credited with the scientific discovery that working memory can be trained. Working memory is a function of the brain that holds information “online” for a brief period of time, typically a few seconds. In daily life, individuals use working memory to perform numerous tasks such as remembering instructions, solving problems, controlling impulses and focusing attention. Deficient working memory manifests itself in an array of symptoms including inattention.
“Many individuals with attention problems have deficits in working memory, and there is increasing evidence that this important cognitive function can be improved with training,” said Dr. David Rabiner, a senior research scientist at Duke University and a consultant to Cogmed. “Gains in working memory have been shown to reduce symptoms of inattention in several studies. Cogmed Working Memory Training is thus a very promising new approach for assisting children and adults who struggle with attention difficulties.”
“Parents are thrilled with the training results,” said noted author and psychologist, Dr. Barbara Ingersoll, who offers the training program from her clinic in Bethesda, Md. “Again and again, parents tell me they see a ‘quantum leap’ in their child’s maturity.”
Cogmed Working Memory Training is an intervention backed by peer reviewed studies published in leading neuroscience journals, including 14 studies conducted to date or in progress in Europe and the United States. The program is based on breakthrough research led by Klingberg that showed that training of the working memory increases frontal and parietal brain activity, which indicates that the training actually changes structures underlying working memory in the brain. These results were published in Nature Neuroscience in 2004.1 A team of researchers led by Klingberg later established the effectiveness of Cogmed Working Memory Training through a randomized, controlled study published in the Journal
of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in 2005 under the title “Computerized Training of Working Memory in Children with ADHD – a Randomized, Controlled, Trial.”2
1. Olesen et al, Increased Prefrontal and Parietal Brain Activity After Training of Working Memory (2004), Nature Neuroscience
2. Klingberg et al, Computerized Training of Working Memory In Children with ADHD – a Randomized, Controlled, Trial (2005), J American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44 (2): 177-186.
Cogmed has made a breakthrough discovery that individuals can train and improve their working memory, a key function of the brain that allows individuals to store information for brief periods of time. Cogmed Working Memory Training helps people with attention deficits improve focus, impulse control and complex problem solving. Through a combination of software-based memory exercises and personal coaching, participants engage in a challenging five-week program using an Internet-connected computer at home. More than 80 percent of those who have completed Cogmed’s rigorous and rewarding training have demonstrated dramatic and lasting improvements. Cogmed’s program has been validated by highimpact research in controlled scientific studies at the Karolinska Institute, a world-renowned medical university based in Stockholm, Sweden. A leader in the emerging field of neurotechnology, Cogmed was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Naperville, Ill. Cogmed’s services are provided by a growing network of more than 20 specialist clinics around the US.
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