Can improving working memory prevent academic difficulties? A school based randomised controlled trial

Institution: Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children’s Hospital (Parkville, Australia) & Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Investigator(s): Dr. Gehan Roberts, Dr. Jon Quach, Dr. Lisa Gold, Dr. Peter Anderson, Professor Field Rickards, Dr. Fiona Mensah, Dr. Jon Ainley, Dr. Susan Gathercole, Professor Melissa Wake

Program: Cogmed RM

Background & Aim: Working memory (WM) refers to the ability to temporarily store and manipulate information in a ‘mental workspace’. Deficits are strongly associated with academic difficulties. Research suggests that over 15% of children have WM deficits in early childhood. Therefore, WM deficits could make a major contribution to poor academic outcomes at the population level. This project aims to find whether school-based implementation of Cogmed have a sustained impact on a) literary and numeracy and b) working memory skills intervention in children, compared with passive control and to examine the intervention’s costs, compared with its benefits to children, families and schools.

Population & Sample Size: N = 438 children with low working memory (<25th percentile on backward digit recall and spatial span tasks from the Automated Working Memory Assessment (AWMA))

Design: Randomized, Controlled, Blinded trial nested in a population-based cross-sectional screening study, Test-retest, 6 -24 month follow-up

To read more about the study protocol, click here.