“BrainFutures released a report today that makes a clear case for integrating proven brain fitness programs into all U.S. classrooms. Over a decade of research has shown that evidence-based programs can improve students’ executive function skills and prosocial behaviors, which are more accurate predictors of academic readiness and life success than IQ or any other performance markers.
Brain Fitness and Executive Function: Evidence-Based Interventions That Improve Student Outcomes details the importance of foundational executive function skills — working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility — on academic performance and how classroom programs can help improve those skills. These skills are inextricably linked to social emotional learning (SEL).”
About the Report:
Of immediate use to educators and school leaders, the report presents a vetted set of brain fitness programs that meet the evidence-based standards of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The report highlights classroom interventions specifically because they allow all students to engage in the program together without stigmatizing those with the greatest deficits.
The report analyzed brain fitness interventions already being used in schools, including cognitive training programs, mindfulness tools, and executive function skills curricula. Those programs have yielded proven outcomes for students, including:
- Increases in proficiency on state-mandated standardized tests and school-administered tests
- Reductions in disruptive school behaviors
- Increases in prosocial behaviors
The Call to Action: all schools should adopt brain fitness programs and ensure that executive function training is a standard component of teacher certification programs.
–> Download the full report HERE (opens PDF)
About the ten vetted brain fitness programs:
The report reviewed more than 40 executive functions skills (EF) programs. Of these, 10 met the rigorous criteria established by the advisory group. Here are the ten, ordered alphabetically, and indicating duration and suggested frequency of use:
- Activate: 10 hours plus 5 hours of exercise breaks across 10 weeks: 20 min. per day, 3 days per week plus 5‑min. exercise breaks twice a day
- Cogmed Working Memory Training: 21 hours across 5 to 13 weeks: five 50-min. sessions per week for 5 weeks can be spread out across up to 13 weeks
- Fast ForWord: 150 min. per week until desired levels are complete
- Inner Explorer: 50 min. per week recommended: 10 min. daily
- Master Mind: 6 hours and 15 min. total: 15 min. daily for 5 weeks
- Mindfulness in Schools Project: Grades 2–6: six hours total: Can be taught as six 1‑hour lessons or twelve 30-min. lessons. Grades 6–8: eight-nine hours total: nine lessons for 40–60 min. each
- MindUP: One 45 min. lesson per week plus Brain Breaks 3 times a day (25 min. each)
- PATH to reading: 5 hours 20 minutes total: 64 5‑min. sessions, either 1 session daily (5 min) or 2 sessions every other day at start of the school day
- SMART: 8.5 hours total: ten sessions implemented in two or three 45–50 min. sessions per week for four weeks
- Tools of the mind: Curriculum is used every day throughout the day
In addition to the 10 programs that passed all criteria, 19 programs had promising results and are profiled in Appendix 3.
The Report in Context:
- What is Brain Fitness?
- Solving the Brain Fitness Puzzle Is the Key to Self-Empowered Aging
- What are cognitive abilities and how to boost them?
- Mindfulness and Meditation in Schools: Mindful Kids, Peaceful Schools
- Can brain training work? Yes, if it meets these 5 conditions
- Six tips to build resilience and prevent brain-damaging stress
- Fun Brain Teasers and Illusions for Teens and Adults of Any Age