Brain Training & Academics, Brain Training & Fitness, Brain Training Research

More Than Games: Brain Training Improves Intelligence in Kids

Research Supports Brain Training Efficacy when Delivered by a Personal Trainer!

The results of a randomized controlled trial, published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, support the efficacy of the ThinkRx one-on-one cognitive training program in improving cognitive skills and IQ scores in students ages 8 to 14 years. The study showed statistically significant generalized improvements in six cognitive skills—associative memory, working memory, long-term memory, visual and auditory processing, logic and reasoning, and processing speed—as well as a 21 point mean increase in overall General Intelligence Ability (GIA) testing scores, an established measure of IQ.

The study is the first of its kind to evaluate the efficacy of a comprehensive, one-on-one cognitive training program targeting multiple cognitive abilities, offering an important contribution to the knowledge base on cognitive training effects in children. It was led by Dick M. Carpenter II, PhD, University of Colorado Springs; Christina Ledbetter, PhD, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center; and Amy Lawson Moore, PhD, Gibson Institute of Cognitive Research. Their findings also support the use of the Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) theory of intelligence in the design of cognitive training programs to ensure multiple cognitive skills are targeted by training exercises. 

“Not all brain training programs are alike. This wasn’t a ‘brain games’ app.  This was a comprehensive therapeutic intervention delivered by a human being sitting across the table from the client,” says educational psychologist and co-investigator Dr. Moore. “The dynamic between the client and the cognitive trainer was a critical piece in the cognitive training protocol.”

Researchers evaluated the effects of ThinkRx, a program that targets seven cognitive skills through 60 hours of one-on-one cognitive training. In this trial, 39 students aged 8 to 14 years were randomly assigned to a control group or an experimental group that underwent training with ThinkRx. Pre- and post-testing assessed individual cognitive skills and GIA, a standardized measure of IQ from the Woodcock Johnson III – Tests of Cognitive Abilities, to determine improvements. Analysis of pretesting and post-testing scores showed participants in the treatment group consistently achieved a greater difference as compared to the control group on all measures, with the greatest gap between groups demonstrated on logic and reasoning (28.31 point difference) and GIA (26.11 point difference), with the exception of attention as measured by the NIH Cognition Toolbox. Treatment group students typically experienced growth two to three times greater than those in the control group, with the greatest growth in the treatment group demonstrated in test scores for long-term memory (27 points), associative memory (23 points), and logic and reasoning (20 points).

This study adds to recent findings presented by clinical neuroscientist and co-author Dr. Ledbetter, which found functional brain changes on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of the brain after students completed brain training with LearningRx. “I’m excited about what the changes in GIA score and other cognitive skills could mean in terms of brain connectivity, network efficiency, and overall cognitive processing,” said Dr. Ledbetter. 

“While most brain training research looks at improvements in working memory, this randomized controlled trial builds on existing literature that documents how brain training can improve individual cognitive skills and helps validate how comprehensive brain training for multiple core cognitive skills measurably improves cognitive performance,” said Dr. Moore. “The findings have profound implications for brain training and its benefits.”


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