ADHD News & Research

Study: Cogmed Program Improves Self-Esteem, Not ADHD Symptoms

A modified version of the Cogmed working memory training program improved self-esteem in 40 youth with ADHD who participated in a recent study, but research findings did not indicate improvement in working memory capacity.

January 18, 2021

A Cogmed working memory training program modified for youth with ADHD improves self-esteem in participants, but it does not reliably improve ADHD symptoms, according to a recent Journal of Attention Disorders study.1

Though previous research has found that working memory training programs like Cogmed improve performance on closely related working memory tasks, the duration of these gains remained unclear and benefits did not appear to extend to other domains of function. Researchers for the present study suggested that the standard Cogmed protocol for youth was potentially too taxing for the ADHD brain, and sought to explore the potential effectiveness of a modified Cogmed training program.

A group of 40 youth with ADHD underwent modified Cogmed training (MCT) or treatment as usual (CON). MCT was delivered in a hospital clinic by a dedicated coach in relatively short sessions distributed over a more protracted period than typical Cogmed training. Assessments were completed at baseline, post-intervention, and three months after the intervention.

Participants who completed MCT reported improved feelings of confidence and self-esteem, an effect that was sustained over time. Parents and teachers rated the MCT group as having fewer executive function challenges compared with the CON group, but researchers found that this improvement could not be attributed to increased working memory capacity.

“Although our results do not indicate that Cogmed increased ADHD youths’ working memory capacity per se, there may have been other aspects to the training regimen that better-enabled ADHD youth to apply their executive skills in the real-world contexts of home and school — such as more explicit goal-setting, greater mental effort, and increased tolerance for challenge,” the researchers concluded. Further research is required to test these speculations.

1(Sol) Sandberg, S., & McAuley, T. (2021). Hospital-Based Modified Cogmed Working Memory Training for Youth With ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders. https://doi.org/10.1177/10870547211066487

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