The benefits of cognitive training long been touted in academic journals, in some cases as early as 1980. While most of these are accessible with Google Scholar, they are still spread out and take a bit of effort to find.
So, we gathered some of the most prominent and influential research that has been published over the last 30 years on neurocognitive training and its effect on ADHD and put them in one place.
Just click on the ‘Read more’ link to be brought to the PDF of the paper if you care to dig in a little further.
The effect of computerized WM training (adaptive) was compared to a placebo condition (nonadaptive) in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled design in 26 children (18 males; age, 7 to 14 years old) diagnosed with ADHD. Participants completed the training in approximately 25 sessions. The Restricted Academic Situations Task (RAST) observational system was used to assess aspects of off-task behavior during the completion of an academic task. Traditional measures of ADHD symptoms (Conners’ Parent Rating Scale) and WM ability (standardized WM tests) were also collected.
WM training led to significant reductions in off-task ADHD-associated behavior on the RAST system and improvement on WM tests. There were no significant differences between groups in improvement on parent rating scales. Findings lend insight into the generalizability of the effects of WM training and the relation between deficits in WM and off-task behavioral components of ADHD. These preliminary data suggest WM training may provide a mechanism for indirectly altering academic performance in children with ADHD.
A total of 41 children with ADHD from 2 middle schools were randomly assigned to receive 2 sessions a week at school of either neurofeedback (NF) or attention training through a standard computer format (SCF), either immediately or after a 6-month wait (waitlist control group). Parents, children, and teachers completed questionnaires pre- and postintervention.
Primary parents in the NF condition reported significant (P < .05) change on Conners’s Rating Scales—Revised (CRS-R) and Behavior Assessment Scales for Children (BASC) subscales; and in the SCF condition, they reported significant (P < .05) change on the CRS-R Inattention scale and ADHD index, the BASC Attention Problems Scale, and on the Behavioral Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning (BRIEF). This randomized control trial provides preliminary evidence of the effectiveness of computer-based interventions for ADHD and supports the feasibility of offering them in a school setting.
Students receiving either intervention were more likely than controls to show a moderate decline in teacher rated attention problems in first grade. Students receiving CAI also showed gains in reading fluency and in teacher ratings of academic performance. Intervention effects for attention were absent by second grade largely because attention problems declined in all groups. However, post hoc analyses indicated potential longer-term benefits for children with 6 or more inattentive symptoms at baseline. Persistent attention problems were associated with poorer academic performance in multiple domains.
Results provide initial evidence that CAT and CAI can improve children’s attention in the classroom – and support additional studies to determine whether more clinically significant benefits are attainable.
This transfer results even though the trained task is entirely different from the intelligence test itself. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the extent of gain in intelligence critically depends on the amount of training: the more training, the more improvement in Gf. That is, the training effect is dosage-dependent. Thus, in contrast to many previous studies, we conclude that it is possible to improve Gf without practicing the testing tasks themselves, opening a wide range of applications.
Included in the trial were 53 children with ADHD (9 girls; 15 of 53 inattentive subtype), aged 7 to 12 years, without stimulant medication. The compliance criterion (>20 days of training) was met by 44 subjects, 42 of whom were also evaluated at follow-up 3 months later. Participants were randomly assigned to use either the treatment computer program for training WM or a comparison program.
The main outcome measure was the span-board task, a visuospatial WM task that was not part of the training program. For the span-board task, there was a significant treatment effect both post-intervention and at follow-up. In addition, there were significant effects for secondary outcome tasks measuring verbal WM, response inhibition, and complex reasoning. Parent ratings showed significant reduction in symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity, both post-intervention and at follow-up.
Recent studies support the notion that many children with ADHD have cognitive deficits, specifically in working memory–the ability to hold in mind information that guides behavior. The cognitive problem manifests behaviorally as inattention and contributes to poor academic performance. Such research not only questions the value of medicating ADHD children, it also is redefining the disorder and leading to more meaningful treatment that includes cognitive training.
The results found significant improvement on full scale attention and full scale response accuracy of a continuous performance task in the mTBI and ADHD groups compared to the control group. A self report showed a significant decline in symptoms in the mTBI and ADHD groups compared to the control group. Errors on a problem solving task decreased only in the mTBI group. The treatment model used in this study showed significant improvement in the sustained attention of individuals diagnosed with mTBI and ADHD after twenty treatment sessions.
Behavioral scales, spectral electroencephalograms, and intelligence and performance tests were assessed pre-and posttreatment. A behavioral point system and monitoring of progress on computer tasks were used throughout treatment to evaluate ongoing improvements. There were 64 training sessions administered over a 16-week period. Outcome of treatment was determined by computer advancement, changes in behavioral points, and pre-and postmeasures.
Results support the expectation that children who were most successful in the training would demonstrate the highest levels of generalization of those skills that were the focus of treatment.
Results showed that when the cognitive intervention was combined with medication, there was a significant improvement in the subjects’ ability to delay impulsive responding. However, no significant effects were seen for sustained vigilance for either the behavioral or cognitive groups. Parents rated children in the cognitive group significantly higher than those in the control group.
Experimental Ss showed improvement on scanning and tracking variables, in spite of the nature of their particular dysfunctions. Recommendations are presented regarding the nature and content of the cognitive tasks in a CRP.