Cogmed Working Memory Training

Working memory:

  • is the ability to keep information in your awareness long enough so that you can use it effectively,
  • allows you to focus on one task and ignore other things,
  • helps you to remember what to do next.

Cogmed Working Memory Training was developed to help children and adults to improve their working memory.

Cogmed Qualified Practice

It was founded by Swedish brain researcher, Torkel Klingberg. One of the strengths of the company is that they did not begin marketing the program to consumers until after they had completed peer-reviewed research that demonstrated its effectiveness. 

Dr. Klingberg developed the program to enhance children's working memory capacity in an effective, efficient, and fun way. Using a computer program called Cogmed - RM (or JM or QM), trainees complete a set of 8 exercises in a 30 to 45 minute session -- five days a week for five weeks. Once the exercises are completed each day, children using the Cogmed RM program get access to a video game called RoboRacing. There is a version of the program for adults (18 and over) -- Cogmed QM and a version for 4 to 6 year olds -- Cogmed JM. 

After completing the training, children and adults experience:

  • substantial improvements in working memory
  • decrease in inattention and impulsivity problems
  • perform better in academic and/or work tasks.

People with a working memory deficit find it difficult to stay focused, to ignore distractions, to plan next steps, to remember instructions, and start and finish tasks. It most often shows as an attention problem which can be a source of poor academic performance.  Cogmed's Working Memory Guide lists the working memory skills needed at different ages and stages of development.  The guide indicates when training may be needed. Cogmed Working Memory Training is available in three versions:

Basic training (5 weeks)

Cogmed Working Memory Training was developed for persons with working memory and attention deficits. The training is done on a computer using the Cogmed software with support from a Cogmed-qualified coach. Training is done at home, usually with support from a training aide such as a parent, who participates in each training session. Training takes about 30 minutes a day, five days a week for five weeks. The full training process can be conducted using the phone and Internet.

Basic training includes

Interview – Training is preceded by an interview with a parent or participant that can be done over the phone. During the interview, the prospective trainee's specific difficulties are assessed and the likelihood of the person benefiting from Cogmed training is evaluated.

Start-up session – The coach will ensure that the program is installed properly and that it is working well. This helps to get the trainee and the training aide (such as a parent) off to a good start.

Five-week training with coaching sessions – The coach follows the results of the training over the Internet. Every week the coach discusses the results and developments with the training aide and sometimes with the trainee in a coaching session; this is usually done over the phone.

Wrap-up session – When the training has been completed, the coach helps to evaluate the trainee's progress with the training aide and, then, produces a training report. If the training aide is someone other than a parent, then a parent will also be included in the evaluation session.

Follow-up – Five to six months after the conclusion of training, the coach calls the family to follow up on long-term progress.

The main difference in the program for adults is that the adult will, most often, complete the program by themselves. The coach is still involved but the training aide is not always needed.

About Cogmed Training

The Working Memory Training program is built around a software application called Cogmed RM (or JM or QM). Training takes about 30 minutes five days a week for five weeks.

The program is dynamic and it adjusts to the trainee's performance; it always pushes the trainee to perform at the peak of their ability. The trainee completes 8 exercises each day; they rotate in a pre-determined pattern from a set of 12 exercises. The exercises are designed to train both visual-spatial working memory and verbal working memory. The exercises become more challenging as the trainee's ability improves.

Demo of Cogmed RM Working Memory Training software

To help parents motivate their children and provide them with feedback, the program includes support from a personal coach at a Cogmed Qualified Practice.

You will need a computer or tablet (Windows or Mac), a high-speed internet connection, and speakers; no additional accessories are required.  At the end of each day's training, children gain access to a racing game that is fun and challenging -- it's called RoboRacing. This is their daily reward for completing training. It is also recommended that you incorporate a more formal reward system for the trainee.

Research Support

There is considerable research support for the efficacy of this method. Torkel Klingberg led the research in this field over the past decade. There is much information about the research that has been done and about the ongoing and current research projects on the Cogmed website.

Briefly, research results show that the RoboMemo program is successful in improving children's working memory, decreasing symptoms of attention and impulsivity, and enhancing academic performance (Klingberg et al. 2005 study).

Other research has shown that the program leads to changes in brain function -- an article published in Science in February 2009 showed changes in dopamine transmission following training. Another significant change was in increased activity in the prefrontal and parietal areas of the cortex that tend to be underactive in children with ADHD (Klingberg et al. 2004 study published in Nature Neuroscience). Full text versions of all of these studies are available on Dr. Klingberg's own website.

Cogmed Qualified Practice

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