ADHD and Working Memory: Computer Training Shows Benefit

A recent study reported in Scientific American points the way towards a possible new treatment for ADHD. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a widely misunderstood condition which severely affects as many as one in a 100 children.

Many studies have already shown the benefits of medication – specifically Ritalin – in treating the condition. This is a stimulant that can improve ADHD dramatically, although exactly how it works remains a mystery.

One theory is that the problems associated with ADHD are partly a result of an impairment of working memory. This new research examines the possibility that a computer programme can be used to train working memory.

The outcomes from this study showed a significant benefit after training as rated by the children’s parents. To its detriment though, no benefit was seen by the children’s teachers. As ever, with brand new treatment methods, it remains to be seen whether these results can be replicated, and also whether teacher ratings will show an improvement.
Scientific American
Attention Research Update provides a summary of the research.

Sustained Ecstasy Use Degrades Memory

Some of the first evidence coming through that sustained use of ecstasy might impair memory:

Researchers found the ecstasy users remembered an average of 25% less items. University senior lecturer in psychology Dr Tom Heffernan said: “I would say it was quite a significant forgetting rate. It is something they certainly should be concerned about.”

This research comes on top of some previous research showing cognitive deficits in ecstasy users as as well evidence that heavy ecstasy use is linked to depressive symptoms.
Find out more about the emergence of the popular recreational drug.

Memory illuminated by sign language

Some proper science here at last. I get a little nervous when I’ve been posting too many fluffy pieces about dating or life coaches! This study updates the theories about the relationship between the number of short-term memory slots a person has and their intelligence.

Studies of English-speakers have found that people can retain between 5 and 9 items in short-term memory. Other languages have been tested and while most were similar, some exceptions have been found. Chinese speakers could remember between 7 and 11 items while deaf people using sign language between 4 and 6. The reason for this was thought to be how long it took to say these words in the particular language. Chinese numbers are short, hence their performance better.

This study, however implies that this test is biased for the type of processing that the brain is doing: in this case mainly auditory. The researchers developed a new test that was not biased towards auditory processing, and this produced more standardised results for those using sign language.

> Article abstract from Nature Neuroscience

Bad mood improves memory

Journos seem surprised by this study that found that those who were in a bad mood were better eye witnesses than those in a good mood. To me, it makes perfect sense. My firm belief is that being in a good mood is all about self-deception, for God’s sake don’t look too closely at the details. I’m happy because I’m in denial about life, and long may it last!

> From News Medical