Cogmed Working Memory Training is a computer-based cognitive training program for children and adults who need to improve their working memory. The University of California at the Davis MIND Institute recently received a four year $1 million grant from the John Merck Fund’s Translational Research Program in developmental disabilities to study cognitive training in children with fragile X syndrome.Fragile X Syndrome is the most common inherited cause of intellectual impairment, formerly termed mental retardation, and is the leading known single-gene cause of autism spectrum disorder. CDC estimates that about one in 4,000 males and one in 6,000 to 8,000 females have the disorder.
According to David Hessl, the study’s principal investigator and Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral, “There are ongoing medication trials but there has never been controlled studies done to enhance cognitive function in people with fragile X using behavioral training.”
The goal of the grant will be to determine whether cognitive/behavioral training can be effective and eventually whether it can complement new medications under development to treat patients with fragile X.
The study will involve 100 children with fragile X between 8 and 18 years who will receive baseline assessment and training in their home. The participants will be divided into two groups. On group will receive a version of Cogmed that will challenge the participants and the other group will receive a non challenging version.
Families in both groups will deliver the intervention five days a week for six weeks. Researchers will check in periodically with families at distant locations via a telemedicine connection to ensure that the intervention is being delivered appropriately.
The program monitors training time and how participants are progressing. At the beginning and at the end of training, the children’s parents and their school teachers will be asked to rate their behavior related to executive function to see if there are any improvements in the children’s daily life and school setting.