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

Adolescent students and teacher smiling by a window.

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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The ability to extrapolate essential gist through the analysis and synthesis of information, prediction of potential outcomes, abstraction of ideas, and integration of relationships with world knowledge is critical for higher-order learning. This study investigated the efficacy of Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART™) in eliciting improvements in gist reasoning and fact recall ability among 556 public middle school students (grades seven and eight), by comparing post-training measures for this group with a sample from 357 middle school students who did not receive training. Outcomes among the training group included significant increases in gist reasoning in seventh- and eighth-grade girls and eighth-grade boys, regardless of socioeconomic status. No significant increases in gist reasoning or fact recall ability were observed among the 357 students in the comparison group. These results suggest the potential for cognitive training to increase gist reasoning and fact recall abilities in students from all socioeconomic levels. However, the magnitude of gains in gist reasoning may vary as a result of gender and grade level.

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Jacquelyn Gamino, PhD

Director of Adolescent Reasoning Initiative Assistant Research Professor

Jeffrey S. Spence, PhD

Director of Biostatistics

Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD

Chief Director Dee Wyly Distinguished Professor, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Co-Leader, The BrainHealth Project

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