Cogmed is a computer based program using auditory and visuo-spatial exercises to improve focus, attention, recall and the ability to screen distractions. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with
information, everyone benefits when these abilities are strengthened.
I was talking with one of our students this summer and he asked me, “Why do they call it Cogmed? It makes it sound like there’s something wrong with me!” He really got me thinking, because we work with people who have such a broad range of learning profiles. Some of the people we work with are gifted, they really are exceptionally bright. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your learning profile is, cognitive training is all about improving fundamental skills and abilities. No one has ever told me that following instructions was too easy, or that it was too easy to recall all of the detail from the book that they had read. No one has ever told me that it was too easy to follow everything that was happening on the playing field, or that they had just too much access to the vocabulary that they needed to express their thoughts verbally or in writing.
With working memory, as with overall IQ, the more, the better!
The thing that I love most about my work is seeing personal growth in our clients. We set the stage for them, provide strategies, feedback and encouragement but the benefit that they get is always a function of their own discipline, investment and hard work. I had the pleasure of working with a number of truly gifted people this summer. The gift that I am referring to is not necessarily founded in basic abilities, but more in a mind set of personal growth, and an unbridled willingness to work hard, keep their eyes on the goal and overcome challenges.
The rule of thumb for working memory is 7 plus or minus 2. This means that average people can hold and manipulate somewhere between 5 and 9 things in mind. This summer we had a number of clients who started in the average range, maybe 5 or 6, but ended up being able to hold and manipulate 14, 15 and even 16 pieces of information, in both auditory and visuo-spatial working memory. Only a few make this type of numerical progress, however; this is an amazing demonstration of how we can create and strengthen pathways in our brains that improve our attention and focus.
How does improvement in basic skills and abilities translate into benefits in real life? For one of our gifted mid-lifers, it was a newly found passion for reading. A previously arduous task had become easy and enjoyable because of improved focus and sustained attention. Improved confidence is also a recurring theme, even for the gifted. Our program is a hard one and the feelings of success and accomplishment upon completion cannot be overstated. For some it’s a first awakening as to their true abilities. They size up the rest of the field and they realize that they have what it takes and that they really can compete with the best!