A new study reviews how cognitive training and stimulant medication address working memory impairments in children with ADHD.

Working memory is the brain’s ability to hold and process critical information related to the present moment.

The UK study continues a series of investigations on the impact of software-based training programs for individuals with disorders of memory and attention.

Joni Holmes, Ph.D., and Susan Gathercole, Ph.D. lead the research that will appear in the August 2009 edition of Applied Cognitive Psychology . The study evaluated the effects of both working memory training and medication on 25 children with ADHD.

Each child performed a battery of tests to assess different aspects of working memory twice before training, once when the children were taking their medication for ADHD and once when they were not.

Tests measuring the same aspects of working memory were also administered immediately after training with a software program called Cogmed, as well as six months after training as a followup.

The results show that stimulant medication significantly increases visual-spatial working memory, but that software training leads to significant improvements in all four critical measures of working memory; verbal and visual-spatial short-term and verbal and visual-spatial working memory. The training effects remained six months after training.

“We’re only just beginning to understand the different ways we can boost working memory. As we continue our work with children with ADHD and those with low working memory, it is very promising to see the magnitude and sustainability of gains following training,” said Holmes.

The study adds to a growing body of research showing that memory training can lead to a range of lasting improvements for anyone with a working memory impairment, spanning preschool children, adolescents, working adults and seniors.

Source: Cogmed