Working Memory Training and ADD/ADHD

Mark Katz, a San Diego clinical psychologist with decades of experience helping ADD/ ADHD kids and adults, and former Board Member of CHADD, and I had a very good meeting with a few school superintendents on Saturday.

We discussed the research state-of-the-art, current ADD/ ADHD interventions and the future of prevention-driven interventions.

Some highlights from our talk:

– More and more researchers are coming to see that the label “Attention deficit” was probably not the most fortunate one. Kids and adults with ADD/ ADHD can pay attention, when they are engaged in certain tasks, so the underlying problem is not a deficit of attention.

– ADD/ ADHD is not a problem of knowing, but a problem of doing. The bottleneck may reside in executive functions such as so-called working memory. The problem is execution, internalized behavior, not conceptual knowledge.

– For more information on Executive functions, you can check the excellent review in the American Journal of Psychiatry, of Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg’s book The Executive Brain

– Working memory is the ability to hold different things on line and manipulate them in real time in order to solve a problem, complete a task…

– When asked if “working memory” and “short-term memory” are the same, Mark explained that they refer to similar concepts, if not the same, but that researchers stopped using the term “short-term” memory many years ago, to make it clear that it is an active, not passive, skill.  In fact, he added, maybe it should be called “working attention” rather than “working memory”.

– We discussed the fortunate trend that many schools are migrating towards a public health model in helping kids with learning disabilities and ADD/ ADHD, focusing on more prevention at early ages than on reactive interventions to major problems.

– Working memory can be trained by intensive and targeted Brain Fitness Programs supported by the use of computer-based programs, like Cogmed RoboMemo, the program that I came to know last year after a great Scientific American article that mentioned their clinical study with kids with ADD/ ADHD, published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (See research here).

You can read more information on the science of Brain Fitness Programs.



  1. Elona said

    Thanks for the link to the Scientific American article about ADHD research. I see a lot of kids in school with ADHD and am going to investigate the alternative treatments for them.

  2. Alvaro said

    Hi Elona,

    You can search for “Torkel Klingberg” in PubMed, to find the original clinical research Scientific American refers to, and more.


  3. Elona said

    thanks 🙂

  4. […] Further information on a number of these and other areas covered in the article: – Neuroplasticity and brain exercise – On being “smart” and building neural connections – Ready to learn? – Working Memory Training and Attention – On attention, trading psychology and open minds – Emotions and Decision-Making – Physical fitness and Brain Fitness – On being positive […]

  5. […] You may also be interested in the following posts – Interview with Prof. David Rabiner on Cognitive Training and ADD/ ADHD – Neuroplasticity and brain exercise – Ready to learn? – Working Memory Training and Attention […]

  6. […] You may also be interested in the following posts – Interview with Prof. David Rabiner on Cognitive Training and ADD/ ADHD – Neuroplasticity and brain exercise – Working Memory Training and Attention Deficits […]

  7. mike said

    Interesting article, a lot of people with attention problems certainly have working memory problems.

    I have ADD inattentive type. On a standardised IQ test I scored around 120 but did poorly on the subtests requiring good working memory and quick thinking, for example I was only able to count backwards to 4 or 5 digits. I also did poorly on the coding subtest.

    I am now starting to try some of the working memory programmes on the market like MyBrainTrainer and Brainbuilder. I don’t know if they well lead to long term improvements but I am already finding they are quite a good way to kick-start a sluggish brain first thing in the morning

  8. […] Some readings: – Interview with Dr. Torkel Klingberg, Working Memory Training leading researcher – Interview with Dr. David Rabiner, ADD/ ADHD leading researcher – Reflections at a meeting with a number of school superintendents […]

  9. […] Working Memory Training and Attention Deficits […]

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: