What is Memory Training
Memory training is based on the concept of neuroplasticity, the notion that our brains are not hardwired and that the brain has the capacity to change with training. Research has shown that memory systems can be influenced and strengthened through systematic training. The importance of training memory lies in their crucial role in overall cogntitive processing and executive functions.
All learning is a process which requires the brain to make connections and then for those connections to repeat a process several times in order to remember something. When the brain receives information from the outside world it encodes it and stores it in the memory system. When memory is being activitated it must retrieve this stored information and reprocesses it in some way. This processing of information requires adequate functioning of the memory systems. We have many different types of memory which serve different purposes for different kinds of learning. In order to understand what memory training is, it is important to understand the different types of memory systems:
Working Memory/Short-Term Memory
This is an executive function that individuals are constantly using to temporarily store and manage information to carry out tasks, and is considered our immediate conscious processing of information.
Long Term Memory
This is where larger amounts of information are stored in a more permanent space, for use at a later time. Memories can be semantic or episodic
Who Should Do Memory Training
Challenges or deficits in either one of these memory systems will greatly impact all areas of functioning. It is important to identify which element of the memory system is not functioning appropriately as this will dictate the treatment. Is it the manner in which the information was encoded through the sensory system, or is it a deficit in the actual storage and retrieval of the information.
Memory training is appropriate for the treatment of a variety of delays and disorders including:
- Executive Dysfunction
- Memory Delays
- Spectrum Disorders
- Learning Disabilities
- Reading Delays
- Speech and Language Delays
- Behavioral Delays
- Sensory Processing Delays
Programs for Memory Training
Cogmed Working Memory Training
Working memory is an executive function that individuals are contstantly using. Working memory involves holding information in the mind for a short time and then manipulating that information in order to perform a given task. Research has demonstrated that poor working memory is the main underlying cause for learning challenges, poor job and academic performance, and difficulties with attention.
Cogmed is a computer based training program that provides a variety of visual and auditory memory exercises to challenge the trainee’s working memory capacity. It is not a program that teaches skills, it is a program that helps reorganize the brain to provide a new platform for learning across all skills sets. The difficulty of each task is adjusted in real time based on the trainee’s performance. This allows for the trainee to be challenged enough but not to the point where they become frustrated and lose interest. The research has shown that with improved working memory comes improved overall attention, resistance to distractions, self-management skills and learning ability.
Cogmed has developed three different programs based upon age of the trainee. This allows for greater accessibility to a broader spectrum of ages and diagnoses, and allows for early intervention of key executive functions. The three programs provide the same underlying design but with different interfaces. The three programs are:
- 1. Cogmed JM – for Pre-schoolers
- 2. Cogmed RM – for School-age
- 3. Cogmed QM – For Adults
How It Works?
First the clinician decides which program is appropriate for the trainee based on developmental age and level of ability across a wide range of skills such as attention, regulation, behavioral control, and comprehension skills. Although the programs are divided by age groups, it is important to choose the program based on ability as well as age so that the trainee experiences success with the program.
“If you start a school-aged trainee on Cogmed RM and they master all the skills at that level, they may be moved up to Cogmed Qm.”
There are multiple options for length of training time per session (ie. 25, 35, 45 mins), number of training sessions per week, and total number of training sessions desired. Once the trainee has completed their training sessions at a level, they may progress to the next age level program. For instance, if you start a preschooler on Cogmed JM, they may graduate to Cogmed RM if they are able to master all the skills necessary at the JM level. If you start a school-aged trainee on Cogmed RM and they master all the skills at that level, they may be moved up to Cogmed Qm.
How Our Memory Training is Different
The key to the success of our memory training program for memory is the integrated approach of combining neurofeedback training with specific memory training programs. The neurofeedback primes the brain by targeting the specific areas of the brain that are known to impact all systems involved in memory. This results in the remediation of a broader set of skills, all of which contribute to improving memory functions. This is achieved through precise placement of the neurofeedback leads onto the scalp in the areas that will impact memory systems.