Home

People

News

Research Projects

Publications

Assessing Working Memory

Information for Parents and Teachers

Departmental Homepage

University Homepage

 

Background

 

Working memory, our ability to hold and manipulate information in mind for brief periods of time, is associated with children’s abilities to learn in key areas of the school curriculum. Children with poor working memory skills often struggle in individual learning activities in the classroom and, over time, they begin to fall behind. Poor working memory is also associated with a wide range of developmental disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Until a few years ago, we did not think it was possible to train working memory directly. However Cogmed, a Swedish company headed by Professor Torkel Klingberg, developed a computer-based working memory training program that produced some promising results with children with ADHD who were not medicated for their symptoms and adults following a stroke.

In these projects we are evaluating the impact of the Cogmed Working Memory Training program with different populations. The key points from each of these projects are summarised below.

 

Contents

 

1. Impact of medication and working memory training in children with ADHD

2. Enhancing working memory in children with low working memory

3. The impact of training on everyday use of working memory in the classroom: A randomized controlled trial

4. Training working memory in undergraduate students

5. Improving support for children with working memory problems

 

 

1. Impact of medication and working memory training in children with ADHD

Holmes, J., Gathercole, S.E., Place, M., Dunning, D.L., Hilton, K.A., & Elliott, J.G. (in press). Working memory deficits can be overcome: Impacts of training and medication on working memory in children with ADHD, Applied Cognitive Psychology.DOI: 10.1002/acp.1589. copy.

2. Enhancing working memory in children with low working memory

Holmes, J., Gathercole, S.E., & Dunning, D.L. (2009). Adaptive training leads to sustained enhancement of poor working memory in children, Developmental Science, DOI 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2009.00848. copy.

3. The impact of training on everyday use of working memory in the classroom: A randomized controlled trial

 

4. Training working memory in undergraduate students

 

5. Improving support for children with working memory problems

Project description

In a new project funded by the ESRC, to start in September 2010, we will be supporting a range of activities that increase accessibility and relevance to classroom practice of the research carried out to date. This will involve the following components.

Key references


Gathercole, S. E. & Alloway, T. P. (2008). Working memory and learning: A practical guide. Sage Press. For further information, click here.
Holmes, J., Gathercole, S.E., Place, M., Dunning, D.L., Hilton, K.A., & Elliott, J.G. (in press). Working memory deficits can be overcome: Impacts of training and medication on working memory in children with ADHD, Applied Cognitive Psychology.DOI: 10.1002/acp.1589. For a copy, click here
Holmes, J., Gathercole, S.E., & Dunning, D.L. (2009). Adaptive training leads to sustained enhancement of poor working memory in children, Developmental Science, DOI 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2009.00848 For a copy, click here
Alloway, T. P., Gathercole, S. E., Kirkwood, H., & Elliott, J. (2009). The cognitive and behavioural characteristics of children with low working memory. Child Development, 80, 606-621. For a copy, click here

Applications and future research

 

The results of these projects have potentially far-reaching implications for educational and clinical professionals. They show for that working memory problems, which are an important risk factor for educational under-achievement and are associated with developmental disorders, can be improved through a 6 week intensive training program.

The researchers are involved in several working memory training projects and LEA collaborations. In their future investigations, the researchers plan to extend their work to whole-class and whole-school investigations and to investigate the impact of training in other populations.

 

About the study

 

This research was carried out by Professor Susan Gathercole (University of York), Dr Joni Holmes (Northumbria University), Darren Dunning (University of York), Professor Maurice Place (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services, Hartlepool and Northumbria University), Kerry Hilton (Durham University) and Professor Julian Elliot (Durham University).

wmllogo