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Child Neuropsychology A blog by Dr Jonathan Reed
  • The biochemistry of brain training

    A new study published in Science spells out how brain training may work at a biochemical level. One of key candidates for effective brain training is working memory. Working memory is the ability to hold information in mind in the short term. We use it in mental maths, remembering instructions and it is a key component in childhood learning in general. Difficulties with working memory are seen in a variety of childhood disorders including ADHD and brain injury. Previous studies have shown that working memory can be improved by training. Studies have also shown that training working memory produces changes to the frontal and parietal parts of the brain. This latest study shows how the changes occur at the biochemical level. The key neurotransmitter here is dopamine, which is particularly prevalent in these frontal areas. This study in Science shows that 14 hours cognitive training using a computer game resulted in changes in the density of dopamine receptors. These are exciting findings showing that change to brains at a fundamental level is possible using computer based learning. It has major implications for the treatment of disorders such as ADHD as well as learning in general. The important lesson is that brain training needs to be focused on specific brain areas and functions, namely the areas that have the most plasticity.

    Published on March 20, 2009 · Filed under: adhd, adhd treatment, brain development, brain training, computer games, working memory;
    5 Comments

5 Responses to “The biochemistry of brain training”

  1. [...] The biochemistry of brain training [...]

  2. [...] candidate is working memory. Whilst it is possible to target and improve working memory directly (see post), it is also possible to use computer games to minimize the demand on working memory with learning [...]

  3. [...] tests, fMRI changes and rating scales. It can also be demonstrated at the neurotransmitter level- see previous post for details. It has been shown to be effective in improving working memory difficulties in children with ADHD [...]

  4. [...] of mindful meditation.  In my opinion mindfulness is closely related to working memory (see post for details of working memory) and meditating on a regular basis by focusing on a set stimuli (voice, breathing, light) may be [...]

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