How Neurocognitive Training Can Help Teens with ADHD

For parents of children and adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it can be difficult to see their child struggle academically or socially. 

While these situations are never easy, there is hope! Studies have shown that Neurocognitive training can help teens with ADHD improve attention, memory, and executive functions, which can ultimately lead to improved academic performance. 

In this article, we’ll explore what Neurocognitive Training (NCT) is, how it helps those with ADHD, and what research tells us about its efficacy.

What Is Neurocognitive Training?

Neurocognitive training consists of targeted, computer-based exercises designed to enhance specific cognitive functions such as attention, working memory, processing speed, and executive functions. 

These activities involve learning new skills or performing tasks repeatedly until the desired outcome is achieved. 

Many different programs employ NCT for a variety of conditions; however, the approach must be tailored to meet an individual’s unique needs and preferences if it is to be effective. For example, those with ADHD often require more visual supports and structure within their tasks, as well as shorter periods of focus throughout the day.

When used specifically for teens with ADHD, Neurocognitive training typically focuses on improving visuospatial working memory—the mental capacity to retain information from short-term memory and use it to complete problem solving, reasoning, and spatial thinking tasks. 

By consistently practicing and engaging in activities that target and strengthen visuospatial working memory, individuals with ADHD can experience improvements in their cognitive abilities and overall functioning.

What Research Tells Us About The Effects Of NCT On Teens With ADHD

Multiple studies have demonstrated that Neurocognitive training can lead to significant improvements in academic performance among teens with ADHD. Improved scores on math, reading, and other related tasks were evident after following a program for several weeks or months. Additionally, researchers reported a reduction in ADHD-related symptoms including impulsivity, disorganization, and poor time management. It was noted that these gains were maintained over time, even after transitioning back into regular school environments.

However, it should also be noted that the effectiveness of Neurocognitive training can vary among individuals. Thus, interventions may need to be adjusted based on a person’s responses and progress. Some participants may also experience greater benefits when employing multiple approaches concurrently. This could include medication, behavioral therapy, and parental and teacher support. Each of these avenues has been associated with improved outcomes compared to using just one intervention.

Conclusion

By taking the right steps to understand your teen’s unique needs and incorporating Neurocognitive training into their treatment plan, you can give them the best chance for success. As with any intervention, there is no guarantee of results since each case varies significantly. Still, numerous studies have indicated that NCT can lead to positive changes in attainment and behavior among teens with ADHD. Combined with the right combination of treatments, it could make all the difference in your teen’s life.

TL;DR

Neurocognitive Training (NCT) is a type of intervention that uses computer-based activities to build cognitive skills like attention, working memory, processing speed, and executive functions. NCT can be tailored to address the unique needs of teens with ADHD who experience visuospatial working memory deficits. Research shows that NCT can lead to better academic performance and reduced symptoms of ADHD. However, its effectiveness can vary among individuals, and a combination of interventions, including medication, behavioral therapy, and parental and teacher support, may be necessary for optimal outcomes.

By understanding the potential benefits of NCT, families now have another tool at their disposal to help their teen reach their fullest potential. Of course, it’s important to talk to your doctor and carefully consider all options to find the right fit for your family.

Sources:

Neurocognitive Training:

Cortese, S., Ferrin, M., Brandeis, D., Buitelaar, J., Daley, D., Dittmann, R. W., … & European ADHD Guidelines Group. (2015). Cognitive training for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Meta-analysis of clinical and neuropsychological outcomes from randomized controlled trials. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(3), 164-174.

Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890856714009366

Neurofeedback:

Arns, M., de Ridder, S., Strehl, U., Breteler, M., & Coenen, A. (2009). Efficacy of neurofeedback

treatment in ADHD: The effects on inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity: A meta-analysis. Clinical

EEG and Neuroscience, 40(3), 180-189.

Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/155005940904000311

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Rey Cortez

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