A 5 week intensive memory training program has potential in relieving a number of ADHD symptoms in children.
Significant changes for individuals who finished the program were seen in areas like ADHD symptoms, attention, initiating tasks, organization and planning, and working memory.
Software was tested which was created to improve working memory, one of the main deficiencies seen in ADHD individuals. Working memory is the capability of retaining information long enough for achieving goals. As an example, a phone number has to be remembered long enough to dial it. The passage of a book that has just been read has to be remembered so as to understand what is currently being read.
52 students, between the ages 7 – 17, from a school with children who have learning disabilities, many also with an ADHD diagnoses, participated in the study. They all made use of the software under the supervision of the researchers and their parents.
The software consisted of a set of 25 exercises in a computer-game format, each 30 to 40 minutes long, which had to be completed within 5 – 6 weeks. The exercises are created to help improve working memory. As an example, a robot will recite numbers in a certain order in one exercise, and the individual must click on the numbers on the computer screen in the opposite order that the robot recited them.
There is an algorithm built in to the software which makes the exercises more difficult as the children get better, so they always remain challenged.
Teachers and parents measured symptoms of ADHD and working memory prior to the intervention, 1 month following treatment, and 4 months following treatment.
Results revealed that children were generally rated by parents as improving on overall number of symptoms of ADHD, inattention, working memory, in initiating tasks and organization and planning. The changes were evident immediately following treatment as well as 4 months later.
Between 25% and 33% of the kids showed significant progress on individual measures, adequate and visible progress to parents.
The teacher ratings weren’t strong enough to be significant, although significance among teacher measures is hardly ever found in any treatment studies.
It would be difficult for teachers to see changes, as the children are only seen by teachers for several hours a day and a lot of other children are being dealt with simultaneously.
An encouraging result is that even ADHD symptoms improved, although the program focused on improving working memory.