Sunday, June 22, 2014

Last report from the Wild West

I never did get around to writing a post about a seminar on brain training that I attended in March, and it deserves a mention.

It was a whole day seminar on cognitive training by the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, and the speakers included Professor Torkel Klinberg, the creator of Cogmed, as well as a wide variety of well-known names among Melbourne neuropsychologists. I strongly recommend the slides of presentations that can be accessed on!slideshow/c19lk.

I was particularly interested in the last part of the day, which was a debate. I was looking forward to seeing Professor Torkel Klinberg on one side of the equation, Professor Jennie Ponsford on the other side and Associate Professor Stephen Bowden as the chair. In my mind a debate cannot get better than that.

I've previously bugged Stephen Bowden re. his opinion on brain training. He is, after all, well known as the ultimate skeptic, intent on scientific proof. However, he claimed not to be involved in this area, so I was out of luck.

But he did not disappoint in the debate. One of the questions he posed was about the appropriate level of proof required before we recommend an intervention. He described three descending levels of proof: a meta-analysis, two randomised controlled studies and then one randomised controlled study.
The answers of the panel clarified my view on cognitive training, at least as far as Cogmed is concerned: Prof Ponsford admitted that most rehabilitation interventions have one randomised controlled study behind them, with not many interventions having two. Professor Klinberg said that he does not have to concern himself with level of proof, because he already has a meta-analysis that supports Cogmed. Hmm, that _was_ convincing.

And that's why this is the last post on brain training. I've decided to build a homestead in Neuropsychology's western reaches and to start offering Cogmed in my practice. As I now have a commercial interest in brain training, I no longer feel I can post on the topic in this forum. Also, it strikes me that my previous posts were meant to convince me as much as my readers, and I decided that I no longer need convincing.

So, final greetings from the Wild West, and it's back to the usual program of reporting the latest technological gimmicks.


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