Research Commentary

Cogmed: The Leader in Evidence-based Working Memory Training

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Based on more than 25 peer-reviewed studies, Cogmed is the most evidence-based computer intervention for working memory (WM) and attention in the world. No other commercial WM training program so actively pursues research validation or employs such discretion in aligning claims with evidence.

Contrary to the recent assertions by Shipstead et al. (2012), trainees consistently exhibit improved WM capacity on non-trained simple (Brehmer et al., 2012, Klingberg et al., 2002; 2005, Thorell et al., 2009) and complex span tasks immediately (Holmes et al., 2009; 2010, Bergman Nutley et al., 2011) and up to six months after Cogmed (Holmes et al., 2009), including increased ability to follow instructions (Holmes et al., 2009) and to remember and add digits (Westerberg et al. 2007). Further, there are randomized, placebo controlled investigations from three separate research groups that demonstrate improved attention in everyday life post-Cogmed (Klingberg et al., 2005; Brehmer et al., 2012; Green et al., 2012).

Commentaries from research groups independent of Cogmed concur that that Shipstead et al. (2012) presents an overly pessimistic view of the Cogmed research case (Shah et al., 2012) and that a pragmatic approach for evaluating cognitive intervention research is essential (Gathercole et al., 2012). Further, Cogmed research has been lauded as rigorous and honest (Morrison & Chein, 2012) and as providing ample evidence of improved WM capacity and attention after training (Jaeggi et al., 2012).

While Cogmed fully agrees with those advocating for improved intervention research designs including active control groups and wide-ranging assessment batteries, as well as accounting for individual differences, we object to the unfairly negative tone and often-deceptive focus on claims (e.g. improves non-verbal reasoning) that Cogmed simply does not make. Ten years of real world implementation by a global network of independent practitioners and educators have shown that Cogmed positively impacts the lives of individuals with constrained WM and attention issues. As more is learned about the underlying mechanisms of WM and opportunities for the development of even more impactful forms of WM training, it is hoped that future discussions will be constructive, collaborative, fair, and balanced.

For a detailed response, click here.

To read the Cogmed Claims and Evidence, click here

Is working memory training effective? A meta-analytic review

Working memory (WM) training deserves thoughtful review and it is natural that the methods be challenged and scrutinized by skeptical researchers. Unfortunately, a discerning review of the current literature is a difficult undertaking and can lead to questionable analysis and flawed conclusions as found in Melby-Lervåg and Hulme (2012). This meta-analysis is marked by a failure to recognize the key differences between WM training programs and the serious limitations inherent in comparing these programs.

For a brief response to this meta-analysis, click here

For an in-depth response to this meta-analysis, click here

For a meta-analysis of solely Cogmed Working Memory Training studies, click here

ADHD meta-analysis for non-pharmacological treatments

For a brief response to this meta-analysis, click here.