Computerized Video Game Training and Martial Arts and Yoga Shown to Aid Executive Function Development in Children 4 to 12 Years Old

In a research study done by Adele Diamond and Kathleen Lee, and published by on August 31, 2011, diverse activities were shown to improve children’s executive functions: computerized video game training, non-computerized games, aerobics, martial arts, yoga, mindfulness, and school curricula. All successful programs involve repeated practice and progressively increase the challenge to executive functions. Children with worse executive functions benefit most from these activities; thus, early executive-function training may avert widening achievement gaps later.

To improve executive functions, focusing narrowly on them may not be as effective as also addressing emotional and social development (as do curricula that improve executive functions) and physical development (shown by positive effects of aerobics, martial arts, and yoga).

For more information on the study, please click here.

Cogmed Working Memory Training, one such example of computerized video game training, is a home-based computerized brain training program that is designed to help people sustainably improve their working memory capacity. Clinically-proven results demonstrate that after training, users increase their ability to concentrate, control impulsive behavior, and better utilize complex reasoning skills. In the end, better academic performance can be achieved especially in math and reading.

In the August 2011 Special Section of Science, Cogmed was featured as the “most researched approach” for improving executive functions in school children 4 to 12 years of age. In evaluating Cogmed, as well as other approaches such as: combination computerized-non computerized training, aerobic exercise, martial arts/ mindfulness practice, classroom curricula and add-ons to classroom curricula, researchers came to some main conclusions specifically related to Cogmed:

a. Cogmed training improves working memory

b. Cogmed training has shown transfer to other executive functions but, this transfer is narrow

c. Children with the poorest executive functions benefit most from training programs

d. Executive function training has the potential to impact academic achievement in children

e. Adaptive training is necessary because executive functions must be continually challenged in order to improve

f. A key element to improving executive functions is the child’s motivation, that is, their willingness to devote time to the activity

g. One benefit of computerized training over other approaches is that it can be done at home

Importantly, this review of computerized training in Science parallels Cogmed’s standpoint that adaptive and supported computerized working memory training benefits individuals with working memory constraints, impacts executive functions and influences academic outcomes.

Further, a review of Cogmed in the journal Science and in the context of improving executive functions in school children represents a growing acceptance of Cogmed Working Memory Training within the scientific community.


Jamison Stone

Jamison is the Director and Lead Writer of Apotheosis Studios. In addition to his professional career, Jamison is also a Trustee, Committee Chair, and grant writer for the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation, an organization which provides grantmaking programs in education, youth development and early childhood development.