Children with learning struggles often present with negative behaviors as well. Scientific research has yet to confirm the specific underlying neurological connection, although parents and practitioners claim a synergistic relationship between cognitive improvements and behavioral improvements. Regardless of the underlying connection, many parents desperately wish for an intervention that will mitigate both cognitive and behavioral struggles for their child.
A study published in Frontiers in Education offers hope for satisfying that wish! The purpose of the study was to explore parent-reported behavioral improvements and measurable cognitive gains from clinician-delivered LearningRx brain training interventions. In an earlier randomized controlled trial with high-schoolers, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed increased brain connectivity in the LearningRx group and changes in neuronal connections that correlated with cognitive test score gains. While this in itself is phenomenal news, understanding correlated behavioral improvements is even more exciting. By evaluating parent ratings of intervention and control groups, the Frontiers In Education study addressed those interdependent aspects of cognition and behavior for children with learning struggles.
The research included 178 students ages 5-18 and investigated whether clinician-delivered LearningRx brain training mitigated academic difficulties and oppositional behavior for kids with learning struggles compared to a non-trained control group. Results revealed statistically significant changes in parent reported measures of academic struggles and oppositional behavior along with increased cognitive testing scores.
According to the author, “Parent ratings of oppositional behavior…for the control group indicates a slight increase in oppositional behavior ratings by parents while the trends for both intervention groups reveal a downward trend in oppositional behavior ratings reported by parents…students who completed a LearningRx cognitive training program realized significant improvements across all cognitive skills as well.”
As parents we often secretly wish we could snap our fingers and our kids would instantly become perfectly-behaved little angels. While this research study doesn’t quite offer such a quick-fix miracle, it does provide fuel for keeping that behavior-improving wish alive!
by Terissa Michele Miller, MS Psy
Check out the original research:
Ledbetter, C., Faison, M.O., & Patterson, J. (2016). Correlation of cognitive training gains and resting state functional connectivity. Presented at Society for Neuroscience, November 2016, San Diego, CA