Improving Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Children with Congenital Heart Disease – an Intervention Study

Deficits in executive functions, in particular working memory, appear to underlie some of the neurodevelopmental morbidities of children with complex congenital heart disease (CHD). We are conducting a randomized trial evaluating the efficacy of a computer-administered adaptive executive function training program, Cogmed, in improving working memory in 120 7-12 year old CHD patients. Eligible children will undergo baseline assessments that include the NIH Tool Box executive function tasks. Children will be randomized to the intervention group or to a wait list control group. The intervention group will do a 5 week training program, involving one 45 minute session per day for 5 days per week. All children will complete a follow-up assessment after the training program (or, in the case of the controls, 6 weeks after the baseline assessment), consisting of the same NIH Toolbox tasks. Another assessment will be conducted 6 months after baseline to assess longer-term impact of the intervention. Waitlist control children will have the opportunity to receive the intervention after completing their participation in the trial. We hypothesize that children who received Cogmed training will show a greater improvement in performance on executive function tasks than the children in the control group following the completion of the training and that the gains will be sustained at the 6 month assessment.