I wanted to alert you to a very interesting finding published in a recent issue of Science, one of the world’s leading scientific journals.
The study was led by Dr. Torkel Klingberg and his colleagues from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. The goal was to learn whether Working Memory Training is associated with changes in brain biochemistry, thus suggesting a mechanism by which training may lead to enhanced working memory capacity and a reduction in attention problems. Thus, although Working Memory Training has previously shown promising results as a treatment for working memory and attention difficulties, this was a basic science study rather than a treatment study.
The major finding was that increased working memory capacity following training was associated with changes in brain biochemistry. Specifically, the researchers found changes in the density and binding potential of cortical D1 dopamine receptors in brain regions that are activated during working memory tasks.
Results from this study suggest a biological basis for the improvement in working memory capacity and reductions in attention problems that have been demonstrated in several randomized controlled trials of Working Memory Training. In addition to this possible treatment implication, this is the first demonstration that cognitive training modifies basic aspects of brain biochemistry at the level of receptor cells. Thus, it is an especially interesting basic science finding in that it shows that brain biochemistry can be modified by experience.
You can listen to an interview with Dr. Klingberg in which he lays out the findings from this study in a clear and accessible manner. The interview can be accessed Here.
You can also access the entire article online at Here (opens PDF).
Let me note that the article is quite technical and that I found listening to Dr. Klingberg’s interview before reading it to be quite helpful.
– Dr. David Rabiner is a child clinical psychologist and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. He publishes Attention Research Update, an online newsletter that helps parents, professionals, and educators keep up with the latest research on ADHD, and teaches the online course How to Navigate Conventional and Complementary ADHD Treatments for Healthy Brain Development.
- Article written by Torkel Klingberg on The Overflowing Brain & Information Overload
- His recent book, which was The SharpBrains Most Important Book of 2008: The Overflowing Brain: Information Overload and the Limits of Working Memory
- 2006 Interview with Dr. Klingberg: Working Memory Training and Cogmed: Interview with Dr. Torkel Klingberg