Does Working Memory Training Work?

A meta-analysis of the research shows some limited benefit, but may not generalize to cognitive performance, attention or academic skill.

Impairment in working memory is a consistent feature found in students with learning disorders and ADHD. It is thought that this constraint not only impacts academic functioning, but goal-directed activity and other executive functions as well. Finding ways to improve working memory and other cognitive functions are of natural interest, and if effective, could have widespread beneficial effect.

The latest issue of “The ADHD Report” reports on the work of researchers Monica Melby-Lervag of Norway and Charles Hulme of England, who reviewed relevant research studies on the topic of working memory training. In conducting their meta-analysis, they examined research based on the CogMed, Jungle Memory, and Cognifit training systems. They note that two of the above mentioned systems make attractive claims of benefits on their websites. Several studies have been conducted on these and similar programs, with results ranging from large effect (benefit) to no effect. The researchers established benchmarks against which the results from the studies were uniformly measured.

Melby-Lervag and Hulme found that the working memory training had a large impact on verbal working memory tests, and

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