Ohio State University Logo Some signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may now be improved, thanks to the following discovery. A groundbreaking study claims that an intensive, five-week working memory training program relieves some ADHD symptoms in children. The software termed as Cogmed is designed to improve working memory, one of the major deficiencies found in people with ADHD.

Apparently employment of this software boosts attention, ADHD symptoms, planning and organization, initiating tasks, and working memory. Scientists mention that working memory is the ability to hold onto information long enough to achieve a goal. The study was conducted on 52 students aged 7 to 17 years, who attended a private school in Columbus. All the participants were diagnosed with learning disabilities and ADHD. Kids were made to use the software in their homes, under the supervision of parents and the study experts. The software comprises a set of 25 exercises that students had to complete within 5 to 6 weeks and every session was 30 to 40 minutes long.

All the exercises are in a computer-game format and designed to help students improve their working memory. In one exercise a robot will speak numbers in a certain order, and the student has to click on the numbers the robot spoke, on the computer screen, in the opposite order. While half the students participated at the beginning of the study, others were wait-listed and completed the software program after the others were finished. Parents and teachers of the volunteers had to measure the children’s ADHD symptoms and working memory before the intervention, one month after treatment, as well as four months after treatment.

Steven Beck, co-author of the study an associate professor of psychology at Ohio State University and colleagues point out that parents usually rate their children as improving on attention, overall number of ADHD symptoms, working memory, planning and organization as well as in initiating tasks. Changes seemingly appeared after treatment and four months later. The study included students who were on medication and was equally effective irrespective of whether they were on medication or not. Since medication supposedly fails to directly help working memory, the training program can be significantly useful. Study subjects possibly displayed improvement in usage of working memory for everyday tasks and put that knowledge to use at school and home.

The study was published in the November/December 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.