School-age - Chapters

Effects of a working memory training program in adolescents with severe ADHD/LD

Research institution: University of Toronto

Researchers: Dr. Rosemary Tannock

Training program used in research: Cogmed RM

Status: Ongoing

The Problem

A substantial proportion (around 10%) of school-age children and adolescents suffer from an ‘invisible disability’, meaning that although they look like their peers, they have unexpected and puzzling problems in acquiring essential academic skills (ie., reading, spelling, writing and mathematics) despite having at least average intellectual abilities. These problems, known as ‘learning disabilities’ (LD), are heritable and impairing and are often accompanied by coexisting mental health problems such as Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and tend to persist into adulthood with poor social, academic, and occupational outcomes. We are particularly concerned about a hard-to-serve, treatment-resistant subgroup of adolescents with severe LD/ADHD, whose academic, behavioral, and emotional needs are so great that they cannot be adequately served by the local school boards.

The primary aim of the current study is to determine whether a computerized working memory (WM) training program will help students with severe learning and attention problems, in terms of improving their WM. Additional aims are to determine whether the WM training will also result in improvements in the students’ concentration and school work, and how long any beneficial effects will last (ie., whether the students will continue to show improvements once the training program has stopped).