MIND OVER SYMPTOMS “ADHD is not about knowing what to do, but about doing what one knows.” —Russell Barkley
Fun and games with a serious
child’s focus. BY PAUL GILBERT MORE
BEN IS A 12-YEAR-OLD WITH ADHD, WHO USED to have trouble in school. His grades were be- low average, and he was easily distracted, un- able to remember much of the material taught
in class. Ben struggled with homework assignments and
studying for tests. He felt defeated, and was frustrated by
his parents’ attempts to get him to study harder. He put
in the extra effort, but nothing seemed to help.
Ben’s parents decided to work with Ari Tuckman,
Psy.D., a clinical psychologist in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Tuckman uses Cogmed, a computer-based brain
training program, in his practice. In five weeks, Ben completed 20 training sessions, playing the science-based
computer games at Tuckman’s office.
The results were surprising. His working memory
improved, he retained more information in class, and he
got higher grades on tests and quizzes. And the success
made Ben feel better about himself.
“Working memory is the ability to hold information in
your mind for several seconds, manipulate it, and use it
in your thinking,” says Tuckman. “It is central to concen-
tration, problem solving, and impulse control.”
People with ADHD can’t always hold on to informa-
tion because their attention gets hijacked. They are dis-
tracted by things around them and by new thoughts that
come to them. Improving your working memory capac-
ity enables you to pay attention, resist distractions, man-
age your emotions better, and learn.
Researchers have developed high-tech therapies that
sharpen working memory and improve focus in children
and adults with ADHD. Brain-training programs are not
designed to replace ADHD medication, which helps