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Attention–memory training yields behavioral and academic improvements in children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder comorbid with a learning disorder

Authors Farias AC, Cordeiro ML, Felden EPG, Bara TS, Benko CR, Coutinho D, Martins LF, Ferreira RTC, McCracken JT

Received 10 March 2017

Accepted for publication 12 April 2017

Published 6 July 2017 Volume 2017:13 Pages 1761—1769

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S136663

Checked for plagiarism Yes

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Peer reviewers approved by Prof. Dr. Roumen Kirov

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Video abstract presented by Cordeiro ML.

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Antonio Carlos Farias,1–4 Mara L Cordeiro,1,2,5 Erico PG Felden,6 Tiago S Bara,1,2 Cássia R Benko,1,2 Daniele Coutinho,1,2 Leandra F Martins,2 Rosilda TC Ferreira,1,2 James T McCracken5

1Faculdades Pequeno Príncipe, 2Neurosciences Core, Pelé Pequeno Príncipe Research Institute, Curitiba, 3Department of Neuropediatrics, Children’s Hospital, Pequeno Príncipe, 4School of Medicine, University Positivo, Curitiba, Brazil; 5Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, US; 6Center for Health Science Research, Santa Catarina State University, Florianópolis, Brazil

Background: Recent studies have suggested that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may benefit from computerized cognitive training. Therapy implementation is especially complicated when ADHD is associated with learning disorders (LDs). This study tested the efficacy of a computer-based cognitive training program, namely, computerized cognitive training (CCT), in children with ADHD comorbid with an LD (ADHD-LD), with or without psychostimulant medication.
Materials and methods:
After diagnostic evaluations, 27 children with ADHD-LD (8 unmedicated and 19 medicated) participated in CCT, which is intended to improve attention, memory, reasoning, visual processing, and executive functioning. The participants completed 24 1-hour sessions over 3 months. Neuropsychometric and standardized academic test results before and after training were compared to assess treatment efficacy. Shapiro–Wilk normality tests were applied, and subsequent Wilcoxon tests were used to identify significant differences in pre- versus post-training performance.
Results: After CAT, children diagnosed with ADHD-LD showed 1) improvements in trained skills, measured directly within the software and indirectly by external psychometric tests; 2) improvements in attention, memory, and some executive functioning; 3) improvements in academic performance, particularly in mathematics; and 4) reductions in maladaptive behavioral features.
Conclusion: The present findings suggest that cognitive training programs should be explored further as potential adjunctive therapies to improve outcomes in children with ADHD-LD.

Keywords: attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, attention training, computerized assessments, executive functioning

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