Monday, September 22, 2008

Strategic Memory and Reasoning Training for ADHD Teens

From Dallas Morning News:

"Using teenagers suffering from attention deficit problems, Dr. Chapman and BrainHealth scientist Dr. Jacquelyn Gamino used cognitive neuroscience findings to create a program called SMART – for Strategic Memory and Reasoning Training – to teach teens how to think critically and effectively use the information they learn.

Teens were taught techniques to block unimportant details and condense critical information into main ideas or concepts, rather than try to memorize and repeat facts verbatim.

"We've used the SMART program techniques for the past year and a half in our ongoing study, and we've seen improvement in the reasoning skills for 98 percent of the children," said Dr. Gamino."

Strategic learning is rarely taught in schools and when available, it is rarely tailored to an individual student, though the truth is, the students who need strategic training the most are the least aware they need it.

It looks as if Gamino and Chapman have not yet published their observations with teens diagnosed with ADHD (still recruiting subjects), but the benefits of training in reasoning would fit well with observations that suggest the middle school years are an ideal time to do this (see the Algebra link and Dorothy Sayers article below).

Data from Neural correlates of fluid reasoning in children and adults pdf suggest that maturation of the rostrolateral prefrontal cortex may be a necessary requirement for efficient analogical reasoning to occur. In this study, scientists noted that the older children in their cohort (ages 6-13) were beginning to show more "activity" in the RLPFC.

Better reasoning may be useful throughout our life cycle. In the ACTIVE study that looked at the effects of cognitive training in 65 and older healthy adults, only reasoning training (over memory or speed training) seemed to show long-lasting benefits on the performance of daily tasks.

Excerpt: "The improvements seen after the training roughly counteract the degree of decline in cognitive performance that we would expect to see over a seven- to 14-year period among older people without dementia,” says Dr. Willis."

Eide Neurolearning Blog: Training Memory, Reasoning, and Speed
Eide Neurolearning Blog: More higher math (algebra) in middle school and more do well
Dorothy Sayers: Lost tools of learning
JAMA Long term effects of cognitive training on everyday functional outcomes pdf

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