Working Memory is Key to Processing Capacity
Working Memory (WM) is a temporary workspace where the brain keeps information online for active manipulation. We use WM to keep plans for what to do next, or keeping relevant information in mind during reasoning and solving problems. WM is necessary to control attention and is also associated with, but not equivalent to, fluid intelligence. It is constantly used in our daily life, helping us to perform in social, academic and professional settings.
WM is different from long-term memory which can only store and retrieve episodes and facts in an unprocessed state.
The capacity of WM is limited both in terms of the number of items it can hold (usually 5-9) as well as the time it can keep them active (1-20 seconds). It therefore becomes a critical and limiting factor for cognitive control and executive functions.
WM is also responsible for the function of delegating what you encounter to the parts of your brain that can take further action. In this way, WM is necessary for staying focused on a task and resist distractions.
In contrast to the vast majority of other programs, the effect of Cogmed has been demonstrated in controlled trials. This means that the training group is compared to a control group, also called a placebo group, that uses a program without the effective training component.
Strengthen Networks for Working Memory and Attention
The effects of Cogmed rely on the principles of neuroplasticity - the ability of the brain to physically restructure and adapt in response to challenges in the environment. This is different from teaching behavioral strategies. A wide range of tasks rely on the same networks of working memory and attention. Strengthening these networks therefore generalizes and transfers to non-trained tasks.
Neurophysiological research measures the physiology and functioning of the nervous system. Tools such as brain imaging (e.g. MRI, PET) show altered functional brain activity after Cogmed intervention manifested as:
- Changes in the neurochemistry
- Modulated activity related to working memory
- Strengthened functional connectivity at rest
Improved Behaviors in Daily Life
Psychological tests and questionnaires show that Cogmed intervention generalizes to behaviour as:
- Sustained improvements of working memory for 8 out of 10 who complete Cogmed
- Improved working memory and attention in preschoolers, children, adolescents, adults and older adults
- Sustained improvements in attention seen in subjective and objective measures
- Improved performance in some, but not all, studies in reading and mathematics
- Improvements for attention deficits (ADHD), as evident in rating scales or measured with objective measures in clinical trials
- Improved cognitive functioning in daily life, as reported in research studies
- Reduced symptoms for adults with acquired brain injury, as reported in clinical trials
- Improved cognition for pediatric cancer survivors
Added Insights from Meta-analyses
Meta-analyses combine results from multiple scientific studies with the aim of detecting common effects. The results generate pooled estimates of the effects of the investigated studies as well as identifying new patterns. Meta-analyses of Cogmed look at the size of working memory enhancement as well as behavioral changes in the studied populations, and they identify:
- Increased attention in daily life
- Benefits for both children and adults
- Long-term sustainable effects
Extensive Collaboration with the Research Community
The Cogmed method is a result of many years of successful collaboration with the research community. For ongoing research programs, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to conduct further research, we can provide free access to the program.
Detailed Claims and Evidence
For a full summary of the research literature and clinical outcomes that support the Cogmed claims above, please download the Cogmed Claims and Evidence document.