Psychology professionals may offer methods of cognitive retraining as part of their practice. The techniques of cognitive retraining are best known for their use with persons who have suffered a brain injury. Cognitive retraining has also been used to treat dementia, schizophrenia, attention-deficit disorder, learning disabilities, and cognitive changes associated with aging.
Cognitive retraining includes a considerable amount of repetitive practice that targets the skills of interest. In fact, repetition is essential for the newly retrained skills to become automatic. Regular feedback is another important element of cognitive retraining, as is the use of rewards. Retraining usually begins with simpler skills and proceeds to more complicated skills. The therapist may address cognitive skills while the person is practicing real-life tasks, in an effort to improve their performance of these tasks. In fact, practicing skills in the ways and settings they will be used in real life is critical to the success of retraining efforts.
The length of time for cognitive training varies according to the type and extent of the injury and the type of retraining skills used. For example, retraining memory may take months or years. The use of computers for cognitive retraining has become an increasingly common practice. Here at Rio Grande Neuroscience, we use Cogmed, an evidence-based program. More about the research.