Brain training may help people with ADHD to focus
Post published by Michael Slezak on March 20, 2015 in NewScientist.com
"Inventiveness has long been a complaint for those struggling with attention deficit (ADD). Here is another article that shares how brain training can be helpful. Don't forget to schedule your neurofeedback to help with those symptoms.
Call (210) 593-9725 / (210) 593-8575 or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org"
Betsabé Rubio LMFT, LPC
What were we talking about? Oh yes, brain-training programmes may be useful for helping inattentive people focus on tasks in their daily life. At least, that's the implication of an analysis looking at one particular programme.
It's the latest salvo in a field that has seen the battles lines drawn between those who believe there is no compelling scientific evidence that training the brain to do a specific task better can offer wider cognitive improvements, and those that think it can work in some cases.
The party line is that brain training improves only that which it exercises, saysJared Horvath from the University of Melbourne in Australia. "What this means is, if the training programme uses a working memory game, you get better at working memory games and little else."
But an analysis by Megan Spencer-Smith of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and Torkel Klingberg at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, claims to show that there are benefits for daily life – at least for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or other problems related to attentiveness.
35 minutes a day
They focused on a programme called Cogmed, which Klingberg has helped develop, and combined the results of several smaller studies. Cogmed is designed to improve how much verbal or visual information you can temporarily remember and work with.
For example, you might be shown a string of words, and then be asked to recall them in reverse order. The programme requires 35 minutes a day of training, five days a week for five weeks. It was developed for children with ADHD but has been expanded to all people of all ages.
Spencer-Smith and Klingberg combined the results of 12 randomly controlled trials looking at the effects of Cogmed that included a measure of inattentiveness in daily life, as measured by scales commonly used to diagnose attention disorders. All but one of the trials looked at children or adults with ADHD, or people who were born very prematurely and so might have problems with attentiveness. The other trial included groups of healthy adults and children as well.
The combined results showed that Cogmed reduced inattentiveness for at least four months after people had completing the training.
Cogmed reduced inattention by an "effect size" of 0.47, says Spencer-Smith. In educational interventions, an effect size of 0.25 is often treated as valuable, and many antidepressants are approved with an effect size of about 0.3."Ok, we've seen an effect of 0.47 and that's moderate to large," she says. "Is that adequate? Or do we want more? I think that's open to discussion."
Cogmed and programmes like it are expensive and time-consuming, so doctors, parents and individuals will want to see bigger studies that track participants for longer, she says.
But Horvath points out a potential problem with the analysis. Inattentiveness in daily life has not been widely used as an outcome measure in brain training studies and so is difficult to interpret, he says.
However, Susanne Jaeggi of the University of California, Irvine, says it's interesting to look for impact on attentiveness because it's important for some groups. But she says the number of studies that met the bar for analysis was small, so more studies will be needed before we can draw any firm conclusions about Cogmed's effects on attention.
Journal Reference: PLoS ONE, DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0119522
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