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  • Marinda Venter

Cogmed: ADHD and Working Memory

When someone considers taking on the Cogmed program, spending the time and effort required,they often wonder what to expect – how much will my attentionimprove? This is an important question, and like all medical and therapeutictreatments, the short answer is “it depends”. But that answeris not very helpful on its own, so here is a longer and more nuanced answer.

Cogmed is primarily affecting your working memory, which meansthis is the first aspect where a change will take place. Based on several large-scale research studies over the last decades, it has been shown that five weeks of training with Cogmed typically leads to an improved workingmemory capacity of 0.7 standarddeviations1. Most of us do not have an intuitive understanding of what to make of that number, so let’s put that into perspective.

Imagine we round up 100 people randomly, and measure their working memory capability. Then we sort them, based on those measurements: people with very high working memory to the far right, and people with very low to the far left. Most people would end up near the middle, as values close to the averageare most common by far.

At place 14, counting from the left, you would find the average person with ADHD, with a working memory that is strongerthan 13 people,and weaker than 86. Guide them throughfive weeks of Cogmed working memory training, and they are likely to improve so much that they can move to the right,passing by about21 people, and placethemselves on position35 – they have moved out of the grey “low zone”.

This is quite a jump! If Working Memory deficit was the main cause of problems in their daily life, they will notice a significant change in performance, in school, at work, or anywhere they need to focus their attention.

Of course, not everyone who trains with Cogmedimproves by the same amount.Talk to your Cogmed coach about how you can plan your training, to get the most out of it. One thing is certain though: the only training that has an effect, is the one that gets done.

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