New Technology Helps Relieve ADHD Symptoms

An intensive, five-week working-memory training program shows promise in relieving some of the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children, a new study suggests. Researchers found significant changes for students who completed the program in areas such as attention, ADHD symptoms, planning and organization, initiating tasks and working memory.

The study involved 52 students, ages 7 to 17, who attended a private school in Columbus, Ohio that serves children with learning disabilities, many of whom also have an ADHD diagnoses. The children used the software, developed by a Swedish company to improve working memory, in their homes, under the supervision of their parents and the researchers.

The software includes a set of 25 exercises that students had to complete within 5 to 6 weeks. Each session is 30 to 40 minutes long. The exercises are in a computer-game format and are designed to help students improve their working memory. For example, in one exercise a robot speaks numbers in a certain order, and the student has to click on the numbers the robot spoke, on the computer screen, in the opposite order.

Parents of the participating students completed measures of the children’s ADHD symptoms and working memory before the intervention, one month after treatment and four months after treatment. Results showed that parents generally rated their children as improving on inattention, overall number of ADHD symptoms, working memory, planning and organization and in initiating tasks.

These changes were evident both immediately after treatment and four months later.