I recently had the good fortune to be briefed on COGMED by Nerida Saunders at Solstice – Mind Matters.
COGMED has made a breakthrough discovery that individuals can train and improve their working memory, a key function of the brain that allows individuals to store and manipulate information for brief periods of time. COGMED state that experts from around the world are uncovering new insights into its central significance for many of the brain’s critical activities, such as learning, reasoning and focus. It is crucial for maintaining focused behavior in practical situations. Put simply, good working memory function lies at the heart of intellectual ability [Dweck, 2009, Frontiers in Neuroscience].
Research by the renowned Karolinska Institute in Sweden and others has shown that mental activity and training can alter the biochemistry of the human brain, and that working memory function can be improved through the use of computer-based training. Clarke (2009) described Working Memory as crucial for neuroplasticity.
Working memory is the ability to keep information online for a brief period of time which is essential for many complex cognitive tasks such as reading comprehension, problem-solving and control of attention. Brain imaging studies show that working memory training leads to increased brain activity in the prefrontal and parietal cortex. Verbal working memory is necessary for comprehending long sentences and it predicts performance on reading comprehension in the scholastic aptitude test (SAT). Working memory is also important for control of attention and to maintain task-relevant information during problem-solving. About 50% of differences between individuals in non-verbal IQ can be explained by differences in working memory capacity (Conway et al., 2003). Working Memory is crucial for neuroplasticity (Clarke 2009).
COGMED was founded by neuroscientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2001. Since this time, around 10,000 people, including researchers, have completed the training. 80% of users are able to see measurable improvements. Cogmed is the only validated working memory programme in the world. COGMED Working Memory Training is a comprehensive 5-week home-based programme developed to help children, adolescents, and adults with attention deficits by training and increasing their working memory capacity. The package includes coaching and mentoring (including an initial and a post assessment) and weekly motivational calls by a COGMED Qualified Coach, software for installing the training programme, feedback in the form of a written document, and a certificate of completion. Your progress and the effectiveness of training will be monitored by your personal coach throughout the training. Further training sessions are available for 12 months after completion of the training package. These are monitored by the user for no extra cost.
The benefits from COGMED Working Memory Training include better attention, better impulse control and better complex reasoning. For children in particular, benefits are improved social skills, taking initiative, remembering instructions, and completing assignments independently. The key objective for children is better academic performance, particularly in math and reading comprehension. For adults the benefits include being able to stay focused, plan activities, start and finish tasks, following and contributing to complex discussions with the key objective being improved professional performance and attentional stamina.
COGMED Working Memory Training is different from other ‘brain training’ in three key areas:
- RESEARCH – COGMED training is backed by solid research;
- COACHING – COGMED training is monitored regularly by COGMED Qualified coaches; and
- RESULTS – COGMED training has an outstanding track record of strong and lasting effects in thousands of users in America and Europe.
For more information on getting help with your memory and using Cogmed in Australia, contact Nerida Saunders at Solstice – Mind Matters. Phone (07) 5599 2220 or go to http://www.solstice-mindmatters.com.au. Also go to YouTube and see Nerida talk about memory and aging.