Cognitive training or brain training consists of a variety of exercises designed to help improve functioning in areas such as sustaining attention, thinking before acting, visual and auditory processing, listening, reading – areas in which ADHD individuals often experience difficulties. Modalities include computer work, person to person motor-cognition work and neurofeedback.

If an individual is having attentional or learning problems, tutoring or drill and practice in academic areas are often not effective. The principle underlying cognitive brain training is to help improve the “core” abilities and self-control necessary before an individual can function successfully academically. The exercises “drill for skill” directly in the areas where basic specific cognitive difficulties occur. Brain Training is like exercise for the brain with specific exercises for specific neuropsych findings or deficits.

The key is to build neuronal connections. Activities that include a motor and cognitive component may work best but the research is not to a degree that one can assert Brain Training is yet an Evidence Based Treatment. In a few years, we’ll surely know more.

Research is ongoing as to what forms of brain training are effective. The key is to personalize your choice of program. The methodology of the program needs to meet the needs of your child. Does your child have attention challenges? Is their issue inhibition? Reading social cues? Staying on topic? Dyslexia?

Some programs include LuminosityCaptain’s Log, COGMED, MC2, Brain Gym and Brain Builder. If your child has not had a neuropsychological or executive function evaluation that may be a first step.

If you need to know more about the specific skills you wish to enhance in your child, a neuropsychologist can do an assessment of executive function. Here’s an excellent book on the topic executive function.

Don’t forget exercise is brain training. Activities that involve motor control and thinking at the same time build brain connections. Some activities to consider include: XBox Dance Dance Revolution, karate, double dutch jump rope, yoga, hackey sac, swimming and tennis. Getting up, out and moving in any way possible is good for everyone.