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Enhancing Inferential Abilities in Adolescence: New Hope for Students in Poverty

A group of headshots of young children/youths.

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

Jacquelyn F. Gamino, Michael M. Motes, Russell Riddle, G. Reid Lyon, Jeffrey S. Spence and Sandra B. Chapman

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Using a sample of 556 middle school students from various schools in Texas, this study examined the effect of cognitive training for enhancing students’ gist reasoning and fact recall. The Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training program (SMART™), developed by researchers at the Center for BrainHealth®, was administered to students through group interactive exercises and pen and paper activities. Results showed that seventh- and eighth-grade girls and eighth-grade boys significantly improved gist reasoning after training, regardless of socioeconomic status (SES). Students in control groups did not demonstrate increased gist reasoning ability. These results suggest that SMART can improve academic performance in students from both higher and lower socioeconomic backgrounds. One noteworthy finding was that increases in gist reasoning for students from the lower socioeconomic group showed greater relative growth than the higher socioeconomic group; instilling hope.
Enhancing inferential abilities in adolescence: New hope for students in poverty  (Fig 3)

Figure 3 displays cognitive training significantly improved gist reasoning scores in both SES groups; however, gender and grade level differences do exist.

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Jacquelyn Gamino, PhD

Director of Adolescent Reasoning Initiative Assistant Research Professor

Jeffrey S. Spence, PhD

Director of Biostatistics