Article

Working Memory Training Improves Cognitive Function in VLBW Preschoolers

Department of Laboratory Medicine, Children's and Women's Health, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7489 Trondheim, Norway. .
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.3). 03/2013; 131(3):e747-54. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-1965
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Preterm born children perform poorer than term peers on tests of attention and executive functions including working memory tests. Our aim was to evaluate if preterm born preschoolers with very low birth weight (VLBW) would benefit from a computerized working memory training program and if the training would have a generalizing effect on memory, learning, attention, behavior, and anxiety.
A prospective intervention study with a stepped wedge design where 20 VLBW preschoolers aged 5 to 6 years participated. The children trained with the Cogmed JM program for 10 to 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week over a 5-week period. Extensive neuropsychological assessment and parental questionnaires regarding behavior and anxiety were performed before and 4 weeks after intervention.
The children improved significantly on trained (mean Start Index 42.1 [SD 6.3]), mean Max Index 60.6 [SD 5.7]), and nontrained working memory tasks (Spatial Span backward; 2.3 [before] to 3.6 [after training] [confidence interval {CI} -2.2 to -0.4] and Spatial Span total score; 6.4-8.3 [CI -3.7 to -0.1]). A generalization effect was found on auditory attention (49.6-58.2 [CI -15.5 to -1.6]), phonological awareness (9.3-12.6 [CI -5.2 to -1.4]), visual (memory for faces 20.0-24.9 [CI -7.4 to -2.5]), as well as verbal memory (narrative memory; 12.9-17.5 [CI -7.1 to -2.0], and sentence repetition 15.7-17.7 [CI -3.3 to -0.7]).
This study shows that VLBW preschoolers benefit from a computerized working memory training program. We speculate that such training before starting school may prevent or reduce cognitive problems that impact educational achievement.

Download full-text

Full-text

Available from: Kristine Hermansen Grunewaldt, Dec 20, 2013
1 Follower
 · 
133 Views
  • Source
    • "Our findings with lower score in the Auditory Delayed index, but not in the Auditory Recognition Delayed index in the VLBW group partly support this model. Inferior working memory function has previously been described in several VLBW groups (Skranes et al., 2009; Kulseng et al., 2006; Grunewaldt et al., 2013), and has also been related to the increased rate of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) symptoms reported in preterm born subjects (Indredavik et al., 2004). We found that the VLBW group achieved lower scores on both the visual (Spatial Span) and the verbal (Letter- Number Sequencing) working memory subtests, although only the Spatial Span subtest reached statistical significance. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The hippocampi are regarded as core structures for learning and memory functions, which is important for daily functioning and educational achievements. Previous studies have linked reduction in hippocampal volume to working memory problems in very low birth weight (VLBW; ≤ 1500 g) children and reduced general cognitive ability in VLBW adolescents. However, the relationship between memory function and hippocampal volume has not been described in VLBW subjects reaching adulthood. The aim of the study was to investigate memory function and hippocampal volume in VLBW young adults, both in relation to perinatal risk factors and compared to term born controls, and to look for structure-function relationships. Using Wechsler Memory Scale-III and MRI, we included 42 non-disabled VLBW and 61 control individuals at age 19-20 years, and related our findings to perinatal risk factors in the VLBW-group. The VLBW young adults achieved lower scores on several subtests of the Wechsler Memory Scale-III, resulting in lower results in the immediate memory indices (visual and auditory), the working memory index, and in the visual delayed and general memory delayed indices, but not in the auditory delayed and auditory recognition delayed indices. The VLBW group had smaller absolute and relative hippocampal volumes than the controls. In the VLBW group inferior memory function, especially for the working memory index, was related to smaller hippocampal volume, and both correlated with lower birth weight and more days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Our results may indicate a structural-functional relationship in the VLBW group due to aberrant hippocampal development and functioning after preterm birth.
    NeuroImage 01/2015; 105. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.10.023
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Children born very preterm have poorer attainment in all school subjects, and a markedly greater reliance on special educational support than their term-born peers. In particular, difficulties with mathematics are especially common and account for the vast majority of learning difficulties in this population. In this paper, we review research relating to the causes of mathematics learning difficulties in typically developing children, and the impact of very preterm birth on attainment in mathematics. Research is needed to understand the specific nature and origins of mathematics difficulties in very preterm children to target the development of effective intervention strategies.
    Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal and Neonatal Edition 06/2013; 98(5). DOI:10.1136/archdischild-2013-303777
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Very preterm children exhibit difficulties in working memory, a key cognitive ability vital to learning information and the development of academic skills. Previous research suggests that an adaptive working memory training intervention (Cogmed) may improve working memory and other cognitive and behavioural domains, although further randomised controlled trials employing long-term outcomes are needed, and with populations at risk for working memory deficits, such as children born preterm.In a cohort of extremely preterm (<28 weeks' gestation)/extremely low birthweight (<1000 g) 7-year-olds, we will assess the effectiveness of Cogmed in improving academic functioning 2 years' post-intervention. Secondary objectives are to assess the effectiveness of Cogmed in improving working memory and attention 2 weeks', 12 months' and 24 months' post-intervention, and to investigate training related neuroplasticity in working memory neural networks 2 weeks' post-intervention. This double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised controlled trial aims to recruit 126 extremely preterm/extremely low birthweight 7-year-old children. Children attending mainstream school without major intellectual, sensory or physical impairments will be eligible. Participating children will undergo an extensive baseline cognitive assessment before being randomised to either an adaptive or placebo (non-adaptive) version of Cogmed. Cogmed is a computerised working memory training program consisting of 25 sessions completed over a 5 to 7 week period. Each training session takes approximately 35 minutes and will be completed in the child's home. Structural, diffusion and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which is optional for participants, will be completed prior to and 2 weeks following the training period. Follow-up assessments focusing on academic skills (primary outcome), working memory and attention (secondary outcomes) will be conducted at 2 weeks', 12 months' and 24 months' post-intervention. To our knowledge, this study will be the first randomised controlled trial to (a) assess the effectiveness of Cogmed in school-aged extremely preterm/extremely low birthweight children, while incorporating advanced imaging techniques to investigate neural changes associated with adaptive working memory training, and (b) employ long-term follow-up to assess the potential benefit of improved working memory on academic functioning. If effective, Cogmed would serve as a valuable, available intervention for improving developmental outcomes for this population.Trial registrationAustralian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12612000124831.
    BMC Pediatrics 09/2013; 13(1):144. DOI:10.1186/1471-2431-13-144
Show more