by Rebecca Shafir                                                                       May 16, 2009

What is a white paper? It is an authoritative report or guide that educates readers, addresses problems and how to solve them.

Cogmed just came out with a “white paper” ( on the importance of working memory functioning at any age. Attention, concentration, problem solving, reading comprehension, organization, multi-tasking, math are driven by working memory. Some researchers describe working memory as the ‘engine of learning’ or the RAM (Random Access Memory) of our brain. Cogmed Working Memory Training is a five-week intensive training done independently in one’s home, school or workplace. It’s just you, your computer, the software and brief weekly phone sessions with a Cogmed coach to support progress.

Cogmed’s white paper is a fascinating account of how persons with strong working memories have an extra edge in academics, sports and in the workplace. As it refers to ADHD, our own Dr. Theresa Cerulli was quoted as saying “We used to view working memory as a co-existing deficit in ADHD, but now we see that it is the core deficit.”

Some other interesting points that are addressed in this white paper that you won’t see in most reports on working memory include how working memory training:

1) can be “a tremendous asset” for athletes as they depend on a working memory for making split decisions under stress.

2) can make or break one’s future. Test-taking ( SAT, LSAT, GMAT,) requires one to  recall information, do mathematical and logical calculations, manage one’s time and stay focused for several hours of testing.

3) alters the biochemistry of the brain (Klingberg 2009) and may restore clarity and working memory capacity for patients who have undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Finally, what about those persons over 50 without ADHD – can we benefit from Cogmed? It has been at least 7 months since my Cogmed coach training. All Cogmed coaches are required to experience the program. As of today I continue to benefit from the “sharpening effects” of the program in several ways that I cannot account for otherwise. On a daily basis, aside from the normal barrage of emails and phone calls, I attend to 5-6 different projects (creating CDs, working with patients at three medical practices, writing articles, teaching martial arts, a pile of readings, and managing a household). My obligatory multitasking has become more efficient; I can move between tasks and keep bits of data like numbers,deadlines, lists and other bits of information in my head for long periods of time without having to re-check. It surprises me and those I live with and work for. I even remember more of the sequence of complex moves in my martial arts class! The Cogmed Working Memory Training has allowed me to accomplish more than the average person on an average day. Carpe Diem!