New Study Shows Significant Cognitive Gains in Students with Attention & Developmental Challenges After Brain Balance Program
Brain Balance, in collaboration with Cambridge Brain Sciences, recently conducted a study to examine the effect of the Brain Balance Program® on the cognitive performance of children and adolescents with developmental and attention challenges.
The results showed that the children who completed the Brain Balance Program saw significant overall improvement in cognition across all cognitive tasks, with the greatest changes seen on tasks of memory, reasoning, verbal ability, and concentration.
The results of this research are consistent with another recent study, conducted by Harvard University’s McLean Hospital, which demonstrated it was possible to retrain the brain and improve its connections through the use of specialized exercises, to in turn manage issues relating to development and attention, such as those commonly seen in children with ADHD.
“There is a growing body of evidence supporting Brain Balance’s holistic, integrative approach to drive cognitive and developmental improvements,” says Dr. Rebecca Jackson, Brain Balance’s vice president of programs and outcomes.
“These studies are especially meaningful because the kids and parents who are navigating attention and developmental challenges want better options — not just more coping mechanisms. These findings support the role of the Brain Balance Program as an effective option to significantly improve aspects of cognitive performance for kids and teens with developmental and attentional issues.”
- Results from the study show that children who completed three months of the Brain Balance Program displayed significant improvements in cognition, particularly in areas of memory, reasoning, verbal ability, and concentration.
- There are also significant improvements in cognitive performance when comparing the participants who completed three months of the program to those who completed an average of just 27 days of Brain Balance Program.
- Some significant improvements were also seen in the control group of children who completed an average of just 27 days in the Brain Balance Program. In 4 to 6 year olds, those improvements were in tasks that measured attention and concentration. The 7+ year old participants improved in planning and executive function. This suggests that while the three-month program was more effective, some specific cognitive areas can see improvements more quickly.
Deep Dive Into the Study
The purpose of the study was to review data on the cognitive task performance of children and adolescents with developmental and cognitive difficulties, including attentional issues, before and after participation in an integrative, multimodal training program (Brain Balance Program®) for three months.
A total of 478 participants (aged 4 to 18) completed three one-hour sessions every week over a period of three months or less. The children were separated into groups by age due to the cognitive tasks they were asked to complete: 4 to 6 year olds completed a series of three tasks and 7 to 18 years old completed 12 tasks of cognition.
The study compared participants who completed three months of the Brain Balance Program to a control group that had all of the same underlying demographic and observable characteristics, but participated in the program for an average of just 27 days.
As part of the Brain Balance Program, the participants completed specific activities including exercises that focus on sensory stimulation, body strength, coordination and timing, as well as exercises to improve eye coordination and auditory and visual processing. The Brain Balance Program does not include any practice on the cognitive tasks that measure their progress or outcomes.
Dr. Rebecca Jackson explains, “Brain Balance uses physical and sensory exercises to engage and strengthen areas of the brain involved in processing and reacting to information. We don’t accomplish this by practicing or drilling the task. The goal with this study was to measure change in areas the kids did not practice directly, to demonstrate how this approach can translate to real-world improvements in memory, reasoning, verbal ability, and concentration.”
The cognitive tasks were created by Cambridge Brain Sciences, a web-based testing platform that has been used for numerous large-scale studies of cognition. There were 12 tasks total, which evaluated short-term memory, visuospatial working memory, episodic memory, deductive reasoning, mental rotation, feature-based attention and concentration, planning and executive function, visuospatial processing, verbal reasoning, cognitive processing, and verbal working memory.
Children completed these cognitive tasks before and after their group’s participation in the Brain Balance Program. The results from this study show that participants who completed three months of the Brain Balance Program, irrespective of age and gender, had improved on all cognitive tasks. There are also significant improvements in cognitive performance when comparing the participants who completed three months of the program to those who completed an average of just 27 days of Brain Balance Program.
Key Take-Aways on the Brain Balance Program for Children Diagnosed with ADHD
Previous studies have demonstrated that cognitive abilities can be improved through training. Similar to previous studies, the results of this study show that children and adolescents with developmental and cognitive challenges showed improvement in cognition following participation in the Brain Balance Program, particularly in areas of memory, reasoning, verbal ability, and concentration.
Some significant improvements were also seen in children that did not complete the full Brain Balance Program, for example, on tasks that measured feature match (attention and concentration) (in 4 to 6 year olds) and spatial planning (planning and executive function) (in 7+ year old participants). This suggests that although the three-month program was more efficacious, it would be possible to see improvements in some areas in a shorter program duration.
The study discusses next steps to further understand the changes taking place in children’s cognitive development including a non-active control group, and measurements of sustained change to explore the potential for long-term gains, as referenced by other studies indicating cognitive functions from training programs can have a lasting effect in children with ADHD.
Overall, since some of the same cognitive functions (such as sustained attention, processing speed, and working memory) appear to be impaired in people with ADHD, the Brain Balance Program may be useful not only as an adjunct to pharmacological ADHD treatment but also as ADHD treatment as a nonpharmacologic alternative. This study provides insight into the importance of holistic approaches to support cognitive development throughout childhood and adolescence.