Impact of Attention Training on Academic Achievement, Executive Functioning, and Behavior: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Am J Intellect Dev Disabil. 2017 Mar;122(2):97-117. doi: 10.1352/1944-7558-122.2.97.


Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) experience significant difficulties in attention, learning, executive functions, and behavioral regulation. Emerging evidence suggests that computerized cognitive training may remediate these impairments. In a double blind controlled trial, 76 children with IDD (4-11 years) were randomized to either an attention training (n = 38) or control program (n = 38). Both programs were completed at home over a 5-week period. Outcome measures assessed literacy, numeracy, executive functioning, and behavioral/emotional problems, and were conducted at baseline, post-training, and 3-month follow-up. No training effects were observed at post-training; however, children in the training group showed greater improvements in numeracy skills at the 3-month follow-up. These results suggest that attention training may be beneficial for children with IDD; however, the modest nature of the intervention effects indicate that caution should be taken when interpreting clinical significance.

Keywords: attention; cognitive training; developmental disability; intellectual disability.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy*
  • Attention*
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction*
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Developmental Disabilities / psychology
  • Developmental Disabilities / therapy*
  • Disabled Children / education*
  • Disabled Children / psychology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Education, Special / methods*
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Executive Function*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / diagnosis
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology
  • Intellectual Disability / therapy*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • New Zealand
  • Psychometrics
  • Social Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Social Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Social Behavior Disorders / therapy*