Cogmed Qualified Practitioner Feature: Richard Abbey, Ph.D.

Posted: August 31, 2011 – Richard Abbey, Ph.D., is a clinician and researcher operating in private practice in northern California. His practice, Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic, specializes in a broad range of neuropsychological services, including psychoeducational assessment, diagnostic services (and second opinions), psychotherapy, and comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations for infants, children, and adults.

In addition to this range of clinical services, Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic is currently collaborating in multiple ongoing research and clinical studies, concerned with the following:

  • ADHD and dyslexia: Contributions of Working Memory on reading (multi-site, international)
  • Long term study of pediatric brain tumors: 20-30 year post treatment (with St. Jude Hospital, multi-site, U.S.)
  • New treatments for Children with autism spectrum (multi-site, international)
  • Clinical studies with all Cogmed patients; baseline and follow-up assessments
  • Dr. Abbey explained how he first learned of Cogmed and what caused him to provide the intervention in his practice.

    “I started searching for a working memory intervention while I was on faculty at Stanford as a pediatric neuropsychologist in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. At that time, I was providing pre- and post-neuropsychological evaluations for children and adults who underwent stem cell transplantations to treat their cancer, rare blood diseases, and genetic disorders. As a part of their standard of care, they routinely underwent intensive chemotherapy and full body radiation treatments. As a result, most of these patients ultimately had significant working memory deficits. My research led me to Cogmed. I was impressed with Cogmed, as it was the only intervention I found that had extensive peer reviewed research verifying its efficacy.”

    Over the past year and a half, Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic has asserted itself as a major provider of Cogmed Working Memory Training in northern California, with a substantial and growing team of coaches—and has indeed become one of the more active Cogmed Qualified Practices in the north American network. As he said, “we have provided Cogmed to over 100 families, ranging in age from 4 to 72 years with a variety of presentations, including identified weaknesses in working memory, ADHD, ADHD and comorbid dyslexia, stroke, declining working memory associated with old age, traumatic head injury, long-term deficits associated with cancer treatments, Down Syndrome, and 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. “

    Dr. Abbey explained his clients are very happy with the results they saw following Cogmed training saying “we have seen a variety of benefits across our different patient populations”. Dr. Abbey discussed one particular client with ADHD who also had a significant behavioral problem, and described her improvements in this way: “Her ability to sustain mental effort and power through her homework significantly improved, and her parents were very pleased with her ability to become more independent and take initiative with her school assignments.”

    Dr. Abbey said he also often works with professionals in their 20s and 30s who find “their attention deficits are interfering with their ability to be successful in the workplace”. Dr. Abbey said some of their best results have come from these young adults, as they are highly motivated to make significant changes and become more successful.

    He said one such case “reported that not only did his attention improve, but he could also notice when it was fading, and he now had the ability to pull his attention back and focus without missing important details. Moreover, his own ratings of his executive functioning both before and after the program indicated significant improvements (2 standard deviations) in working memory, initiation (getting started on projects), planning, and organization”.

    In addition to these groups Dr. Abbey has worked with several parents whose children went through the Cogmed program. As Dr. Abbey said, “this is one of the biggest compliments to the services that we are able to provide through Cogmed”. He said one parent’s results were impressive, starting from a full standard deviation below the mean in working memory, to improving her working memory to 2 standard deviations above the mean for an average adult.

    The Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic engages in regular outreach activity to raise awareness about Cogmed in the Bay Area and beyond. Consisting primarily of presentations to various audiences, Dr. Abbey’s team systematically visits local school, parent, and community groups to educate about Cogmed and about working memory in general.

    They also have proactively registered as exhibitors in education focused conferences, to promote Abbey Neuropsychology, and Cogmed as an available intervention. Additionally, both Dr. Abbey and associate psychologist, Dr. Barrett, have presented on Cogmed and on working memory at regional and national conferences.

    Further adding to the burgeoning area awareness, Abbey Neuropsychology now holds regular educational seminars on Cogmed at their offices, which are free and open to the public.

    For more information on Abbey Neuropsychology, or to contact Dr. Abbey directly, please visit