Pereira, N. 1, 2 , Costa, A. 1 & Guerreiro, M. 3
1 NeuroCog - Centro Reabilitação Lesão Cerebral, Lisboa, Portugal
2 Centro Linguística Universidade Lisboa, Portugal
3 Language Research Laboratory, Centro de Estudos Egas Moniz, Hospital de Santa Maria, Lisboa, Portugal
Background/Aim: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a frequent disorder like dyslexia in which co-occur reading disabilities. This study investigates the efficacy of cognitive training in reducing reading difficulties in children with reading disabilities, characterizing them in terms of neuropsychological patterns. Method: 42 children, with ages between 5 and 11 years, divided into three groups: a control group of 8 children, a group of 15 children with dyslexia and another of 19 children with ADHD. All participants were submitted to a neuropsychological evaluation to assess cognitive functions such as attention, executive function, memory, working memory and visuo-perceptive functioning. Reading performance was measured by the number of errors done while reading, number of correct words read within a minute and reading velocity. These measures were then correlated with cognitive measures. After the first psychological evaluation all children were submitted to cognitive training during 6 months to improve higher brain functions. At the end of this phase they were reevaluated to determine the efficacy of the cognitive training on reading performance. Results: Statistically significant differences were observed between groups for episodic memory (p<0.05), verbal abstract reasoning (p<0.001), semantic memory (p<0.05), verbal comprehension (p<0.05), sustained attention (p<0.05), visual memory (p<0.05), executive functioning (p<0.05), visuo-perceptual functioning (p<0.05), number of correct words read in a minute (p<0.05) and reading velocity (p<0.05). Significant differences were also demonstrated before and after cognitive training for verbal abstract thinking (p < 0.05), visuo-perceptive functioning (p < 0.05), delayed visual memory (p < 0.05), number of correct words read in a minute (p < 0.05) and reading velocity (p < 0.05). Reading performance correlates significantly with improvements in executive function, verbal memory, episodic memory, working memory and visuo-perception function. Conclusion: Cognitive function enhancement improves reading performance in children with reading disabilities. Key words: Dyslexia; ADHD; Cognitive training; Reading disabilities.