COGMED Working Memory Training


Cogmed Working Memory Training is a computer intervention that has been shown to improve functioning in individuals with attention and working memory problems. This training program can be implemented at home and uses different exercises over a period of five weeks to train working memory in 25 training sessions. The intense quality of the program requires the training sessions to occur five days a week for a period of 15 to 45 minutes depending on the user’s age (preschoolers, children, adolescents, adults, geriatrics). Contrary to many other programs available in the market, the improvements associated with Cogmed Working Memory Training have been consistently demonstrated through published, peer-reviewed and controlled clinical studies.

About 80% of people who complete the program experience positive effects, such as a significant improvement in their ability to concentrate, exercise better impulse control, and use complex reasoning skills. The improvements following completion of the training program have been shown to be substantial and long lasting, both in research and clinically. Most importantly, the changes in working memory capacity generalize to behaviors that impact the quality of our adaptive functioning at home, school or workplace. For instance, if a child is suddenly reading a little faster and remembering more of what is read; and subsequently the more material is remembered successfully the better reading comprehension is achieved-this is an example of stronger working memory in action. In a successful scenario, reading will likely be more fun and the child may be more willing and interested in performing this activity with greater frequency or for longer periods of time.

Working memory, which can also be described as active attention, is an essential cognitive function that allows us to hold information in our minds for a brief period of time, typically a few seconds, just long enough to use the information in our thinking. It is the engine that quickly processes the flow of information that surrounds it, and is a good predictor for academic and professional success. Depending on how well working memory may be functioning, we may be more or less effective in carrying out many developmentally important tasks and activities in daily life. Working memory plays an important role in our ability to: a) remember instructions about what to do next (e.g keeping driving directions in our heads while following through), b) keep all parts of a number in memory (e.g keeping all digits in mind to do a calculation), c) read and remember what is read, d) keep information in memory so as to use for problem-solving, e) sequence a task or perform the various steps of a task in a specific order, f) attend to the task at hand without becoming distracted by irrelevant stimuli, g) plan, organize and structure our daily lives.

Although results may vary and the effects in each individual can never be guaranteed, research and clinical data consistently show an 80% success rate for this program-meaning that 8 out of 10 users who complete this program experience measurable effects in daily life. Changes can be observable immediately following completion of the Cogmed Training, but often more substantial gains have been reported after some time has elapsed (3-4 weeks, and over longer periods as well). Parents and/or teachers have reported the following:

  • The child communicates better
  • The child is more focused
  • The child acts more “mature”
  • The child takes more initiative on his/her own (e.g self-initiate chores including homework without nagging or reminders)
  • The child concentrates and sustains attention for longer periods of time
  • The child performs better on academic tasks
  • The child shows greater interest in school work
  • The child is more organized (e.g maintains assignment book, turns in homework)
  • The child has improved frustration tolerance, thinks before acting, has fewer “meltdowns”, is calmer
  • The child shows better reading comprehension, retention and retrieval, with resulting improvement in test performance
  • The child is able to master math facts more easily
  • The child shows more self-confidence, more sense of responsibility and improved social interaction

Cogmed Working Memory Training is not intended to be a substitute for a consultation with a health care provider or for pharmacological intervention that a doctor may prescribe. However, Cogmed has analyzed training effects for children who are on medication (methylphenidate) compared to children without medication, and found that both groups benefit equally from the training.

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