Captain’s Log

Captain's Log Program

BrainTrain developed this computerized cognitive training system to improve an individual's mental abilities in a wide variety of areas.The underlying training premise is that "practice makes perfect".

  • Conceptualized as a computerized "mental gym" providing a full range of mental exercise equipment.
  • Designed to develop, improve, and remediate attention, concentration, memory, fundamental numerical concepts and basic problem solving skills.
  • Improve functioning in individuals with ADHD, ADD, Learning Disabilities, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Brain Injury, and Developmental Delays.
  • Highly enjoyable, range from very simple exercises to tasks, which will challenge the attention of a normal adult.
  • Constantly improved and refined since 1985, Captain's Log is the most comprehensive cognitive training system ever developed!
  • Frequently used in our Accelerated Learning Programs.

The Complete Computerized Mental Gym

Research has shown that just as physical fitness requires regular physical exercise, mental “fitness” can come about through daily mental workouts. Regular use of cognitive training programs, which address particular skills such as attention, listening skills,memory etc., stimulates the areas of the brain that are responsible for these mental functions and helps activate them to bring about lasting change. Using the Personal Trainer, we can create a customized training plan. We incorporate the exercises into your cognitive, behavioral therapy to shape behavior, heighten self-esteem, enhance selfcontrol,and improve processing speed.

Essential to any individual’s ability to learn and process general, social and academic information is the Primary Information Processing System (PIPS). PIPS reflect anindividual’s capability to accurately and efficiently identify, discriminate and process relevant ongoing information in his/her environment. It is dependent on working memory and central processing speed capabilities. All of the exercises in the BrainTrain system help to enhance this critically important information processing system. Each ofBrainTrain’s training exercises has a beginning or starting stage. Generally, it is best to begin with the first stage. The beginning stages often have important information about the basic rules for the specific exercise. Also, passing these beginning stages can help build confidence. The stages are arranged in hierarchical order in terms of difficulty and increasing training time.

In the Captain’s Log programs there are three tracks: Silver, Gold, and Diamond. Each track consists of 15 stages (except that 30 stages are available in the Maze LearningProgram). The Silver track is for children up through age 11. The Gold track is for ages12 to 16. Ages 17 and above start with the Diamond track. Depending on the training options set any stage can become very challenging, even the beginner ones. Increasing the level of difficulty often means that new concepts are introduced, more images are presented, training stimuli are more complex, training time is longer and a faster training pace is required.

There are currently 35 training exercises available in the Captain’s Log System for Windows. The 6 modules currently released include: Attention Skills: Developmental, Visual Motor Skills, Conceptual Memory Skills, Numeric Concepts with Memory Skills, Attention Skills: The Next Generation, and Logic Skills. Each of these exercises has been given a “game” name to add a sense of fun to the training.

Unlike video games, the exercises are carefully organized and systematized to train specific cognitive skills and meta-concepts. Since the primary goal is not entertainment, it may be necessary at times to keep children motivated and goal-oriented by using external rewards such as social praise, tokens, stickers, prizes and/or play money. It also needs to be remembered that mastering boredom and learning to sustain attention when necessary to a repetitive task with a high degree of accuracy is one of the global goals of this cognitive training system.

The exercises provide feedback in terms of money, points, or grade percents. This feedback is displayed continuously at the bottom of the screen. For most programs faster responses will result in increased scores. The point system is weighted so that almost all players will have positive scores. Players must pass a stage in order to be allowed to keep their rewards.

Spurious, random, off-task, careless or impulsive responding is negatively reinforced. Individuals who are inattentive, hyperactive and/or impulsive frequently make these types of responses. Depending on the specific program and difficulty level set, a specific number of these types of responses are allowed. When the number of what are called “response” errors” or “tracking errors” are exceeded, then play is halted and an appropriate error message is presented. For some programs the patience option can also be selected to further reinforce appropriate, on-task responding. This option increases the program’s sensitivity to response errors and inappropriate clicking or moving of the input device. BrainTrain’s Cognitive Training System requires players to make careful choices, pay attention to cues and wait until it is appropriate to respond in order to win.

Cognitive Skills Trained

Over 22 different types of cognitive skills can be trained using the Captain’s Log System. The following list is comprehensive, though not all-inclusive

  1. Alternating Attention: The ability to shift the focus of attention quickly back and forth between two different sets of stimuli in the same sensory modality and respond appropriately.
  2. Auditory Processing Speed: The time it takes to perceive relevant auditory stimuli, encode and interpret it and then make an appropriate response.
  3. Central Processing Speed: The time it takes to encode, categorize, and understand the meaning of any sensory stimuli, which is the focus of attention.
  4. Conceptual Reasoning: The cognitive skills which include concept formation (the ability to analyze relationships between objects), abstraction (the ability to think symbolically), deductive logic (the application of general rules or concepts in making a design for a specific set of stimuli), and/or inductive logic (the analysis of feedback or identification of relevant details in formulating a concept to use in decision making).
  5. Delayed Recall: The ability to remember via recognition or recall numbers, letters, symbols, words, sentences, stories, visual sequences or images after performing mental exercises, which may interfere or compete with the specific information presented.
  6. Detailed Reading: The ability to read, understand and implement detailed instructions correctly. Once an individual has mastered basic reading skills, and then this skill can be trained by requiring the player to read the exercise instruction screens without the text being spoken.
  7. Divided Attention: The capability to attend to, process and respond appropriately to two or more different types of sensory stimuli (typically visual and auditory), which occur simultaneously or in close temporal proximity in the environment.
  8. Fine Motor Control: The ability to accurately control fine motor movements and avoid making erroneous responses.
  9. Fine Motor Speed: The time it takes to perform a simple motoric response independent of central processing speed.
  10. Focused Attention: The ability to recognize and respond to specific relevant stimuli.
  11. General Attention: The ability to focus, sustain and selectively attend to relevant stimuli and make correct responses (a combination of Focused, Sustained, and Selective attention as defined elsewhere in this list).
  12. Immediate Memory: The ability to recognize or recall numbers, letters, symbols, words, sentences, stories, visual sequences or images immediately.
  13. Response Inhibition: The capability of understanding and holding in working memory a rule, which defines a correct response and using this rule to help avoid automatically reacting to an incorrect stimuli.
  14. Selective Attention: The capacity to continue making a correct response during a task when competing or distracting stimuli are present.
  15. Sustained Attention: The capability of maintaining consistent and accurate responses during a continuous and repetitive activity.
  16. Visuospatial Classification: The ability to accurately discriminate relevant features, count and group features based on a concept or rule.
  17. Visuospatial Sequencing: The ability to discriminate and discern the sequential or relational order of visual objects accurately based on a concept or rule.
  18. Visual Perception: The ability to accurately discriminate and respond appropriately to specific visual objects.
  19. Visual Processing Speed: The time it takes to perceive relevant visual stimuli, encode and interpret it and then make an appropriate response.
  20. Visual Scanning: The ability to accurately discriminate and respond appropriately to visual objects that appear without a cue and randomly over time within the field of vision.
  21. Visual Tracking: The ability to follow a continuous visual cue, accurately discriminate and respond appropriately to visual objects that move continuously within the field of vision.
  22. Working Memory: The ability to encode and “hold” perceptual information while processing it and the capability to recall and apply relevant procedural rules in order to accurately respond.


* denotes studies that used BrainTrain products.

ADHD, Working Memory and Cognitive Dysfunctions

"Will Working Memory Training Generalize to Improve Off-Task Behavior in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?". C.T. Green , et. al. Neurotherapeutics. 2012.


Computerized working memory and executive function training programs designed to target specific impairments in executive functioning are becoming increasingly available, yet how well these programs generalize to improve functional deficits in disorders, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), beyond the training context is not well-established. The aim of this study was to examine the extent to which working memory (WM) training in children with ADHD would diminish a core dysfunctional behavior associated with the disorder, “off-task” behavior during academic task performance. The effect of computerized WM training (adaptive) was compared to a placebo condition (nonadaptive) in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled design in 26 children (18 males; age, 7 to 14 years old) diagnosed with ADHD. Participants completed the training in approximately 25 sessions. The Restricted Academic Situations Task (RAST) observational system was used to assess aspects of off-task behavior during the completion of an academic task. Traditional measures of ADHD symptoms (Conners’ Parent Rating Scale) and WM ability (standardized WM tests) were also collected. WM training led to significant reductions in off-task ADHD-associated behavior on the RAST system and improvement on WM tests. There were no significant differences between groups in improvement on parent rating scales. Findings lend insight into the generalizability of the effects of WM training and the relation between deficits in WM and off-task behavioral components of ADHD. These preliminary data suggest WM training may provide a mechanism for indirectly altering academic performance in children with ADHD.

* "Computer-Based Attention Training in the Schools for Children With Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Preliminary Trial". N.J. Steiner , et. al. Clinical Pediatrics. 2011


Objective. This study examined the efficacy of 2 computer-based training systems to teach children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to attend more effectively. Design/methods. A total of 41 children with ADHD from 2 middle schools were randomly assigned to receive 2 sessions a week at school of either neurofeedback (NF) or attention training through a standard computer format (SCF), either immediately or after a 6-month wait (waitlist control group). Parents, children, and teachers completed questionnaires pre- and postintervention. Results. Primary parents in the NF condition reported significant (P < .05) change on Conners’s Rating Scales—Revised (CRS-R) and Behavior Assessment Scales for Children (BASC) subscales; and in the SCF condition, they reported significant (P < .05) change on the CRS-R Inattention scale and ADHD index, the BASC Attention Problems Scale, and on the Behavioral Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning (BRIEF). Conclusion. This randomized control trial provides preliminary evidence of the effectiveness of computer-based interventions for ADHD and supports the feasibility of offering them in a school setting.


* The Effectiveness of Education Technology for Enhancing Reading Achievement: A Meta-Analysis. Cheung, Alan CK et al. Best Evidence Encyclopedia. 2011


This review examines the effectiveness of educational technology applications in improving the reading achievement of struggling readers in elementary schools. The review applies consistent inclusion standards to focus on studies that met high methodological standards. A total of 20 studies based on about 7,000 students in grades K-6 were included in the final analysis. Findings indicate that educational technology applications produced a positive but modest effect on the reading skills of struggling readers (ES=+0.14) in comparison to “business as usual” methods. Among four types of educational technology applications, small-group integrated applications such as Read, Write, and Type (RWT) and Lindamood Phoneme Sequence Program (LIPS) produced the largest effect sizes (ES=+0.32). These are tutorial educational technology applications that use small-group interaction tightly integrated with reading curriculum. Supplementary models, such as Jostens and Lexia, had a larger number of studies (N=12) and a more modest effect size (ES=+0.18). Comprehensive models READ 180 and Read About (ES=+0.04) as well as Fast ForWord (ES=+0.06), did not produce meaningful positive effect sizes. However, the results of these two categories of programs should be interpreted with extreme caution due to the small number of studies involved. More studies are required to validate the effectiveness of all technology applications. Policy implications are discussed.

Traumatic Brain Injury

"Outcomes from a Pilot Study using Computer-Based Rehabilitative Tools in a Military Population". Sullivan, KW, et al. Pubmed. 2012


Novel therapeutic approaches and outcome data are needed for cognitive rehabilitation for patients with a traumatic brain injury; computer-based programs may play a critical role in filling existing knowledge gaps. Brain-fitness computer programs can complement existing therapies, maximize neuroplasticity, provide treatment beyond the clinic, and deliver objective efficacy data. However, these approaches have not been extensively studied in the military and traumatic brain injury population. Walter Reed National Military Medical Center established its Brain Fitness Center (BFC) in 2008 as an adjunct to traditional cognitive therapies for wounded warriors. The BFC offers commercially available "brain-training" products for military Service Members to use in a supportive, structured environment. Over 250 Service Members have utilized this therapeutic intervention. Each patient receives subjective assessments pre and post BFC participation including the Mayo-Portland Adaptability Inventory-4 (MPAI-4), the Neurobehavioral Symptom Inventory (NBSI), and the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS). A review of the first 29 BFC participants, who finished initial and repeat measures, was completed to determine the effectiveness of the BFC program. Two of the three questionnaires of self-reported symptom change completed before and after participation in the BFC revealed a statistically significant reduction in symptom severity based on MPAI and NBSI total scores (p < .05). There were no significant differences in the SWLS score. Despite the typical limitations of a retrospective chart review, such as variation in treatment procedures, preliminary results reveal a trend towards improved self-reported cognitive and functional symptoms.

"Effectiveness of cognitive rehabilitation following acquired brain injury: A meta-analytic re-examination of Cicerone et al.'s (2000, 2005) systematic reviews". Rohling, Martin L, et al. Neuropsychology. 2009.


The present study provides a meta-analysis of cognitive rehabilitation literature (K = 115, N = 2,014) that was originally reviewed by K. D. Cicerone et al. (2000, 2005) for the purpose of providing evidence-based practice guidelines for persons with acquired brain injury. The analysis yielded a small treatment effect size (ES = .30, d+ statistic) directly attributable to cognitive rehabilitation. A larger treatment effect (ES = .71) was found for single-group pretest to posttest outcomes; however, modest improvement was observed for nontreatment control groups as well (ES = .41). Correction for this effect, which was not attributable to cognitive treatments, resulted in the small, but significant, overall estimate. Treatment effects were moderated by cognitive domain treated, time postinjury, type of brain injury, and age. The meta-analysis revealed sufficient evidence for the effectiveness of attention training after traumatic brain injury and of language and visuospatial training for aphasia and neglect syndromes after stroke. Results provide important quantitative documentation of effective treatments, complementing recent systematic reviews. Findings also highlight gaps in the scientific evidence supporting cognitive rehabilitation, thereby indicating future research directions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Cognitive Training With Older Adults

"The effects of multi-domain versus single-domain cognitive training in non-demented older people: a randomized controlled trial". Y. Cheng, et al. BMC Medicine. 2012


Background: Whether healthy older people can benefit from cognitive training (CogTr) remains controversial. This study explored the benefits of CogTr in community dwelling, healthy, older adults and compared the effects of single-domain with multi-domain CogTr interventions.

Methods: A randomized, controlled, 3-month trial of CogTr with double-blind assessments at baseline and immediate, 6-month and 12-month follow-up after training completion was conducted. A total of 270 healthy Chinese older people, 65 to 75 years old, were recruited from the Ganquan-area community in Shanghai. Participants were randomly assigned to three groups: multi-domain CogTr, single-domain CogTr, and a wait-list control group. Twenty-four sessions of CogTr were administrated to the intervention groups over a three-month period. Six months later, three booster training sessions were offered to 60% of the initial training participants. The Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS, Form A), the Color Word Stroop test (CWST), the Visual Reasoning test and the Trail Making test (TMT) were used to assess cognitive function.

Results: Multi-domain CogTr produced statistically significant training effects on RBANS, visual reasoning, and immediate and delayed memory, while single-domain CogTr showed training effects on RBANS, visual reasoning, word interference, and visuospatial/constructional score (all P < 0.05). At the 12-month posttest, the multi-domain CogTr showed training effects on RBANS, delayed memory and visual reasoning, while single-domain CogTr only showed effects on word interference. Booster training resulted in effects on RBANS, visual reasoning, time of trail making test, and visuospatial/constructional index score.

Conclusions: Cognitive training can improve memory, visual reasoning, visuospatial construction, attention and neuropsychological status in community-living older people and can help maintain their functioning over time. Multi-domain CogTr enhanced memory proficiency, while single-domain CogTr augmented visuospatial/constructional and attention abilities. Multi-domain CogTr had more advantages in training effect maintenance.

Clinical Trial Registration: Chinese Clinical Trial Registry. Registration number: ChiCTR-TRC-09000732.

Computerized Cognitive Training with Older Adults: A Systematic Review. Alexandra M. Kueider, Jeanine M. Parisi, Alden L. Gross, George W. Rebok. Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America. 2012


A systematic review to examine the efficacy of computer-based cognitive interventions for cognitively healthy older adults was conducted. Studies were included if they met the following criteria: average sample age of at least 55 years at time of training; participants did not have Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment; and the study measured cognitive outcomes as a result of training. Theoretical articles, review articles, and book chapters that did not include original data were excluded. We identified 151 studies published between 1984 and 2011, of which 38 met inclusion criteria and were further classified into three groups by the type of computerized program used: classic cognitive training tasks, neuropsychological software, and video games. Reported pre-post training effect sizes for intervention groups ranged from 0.06 to 6.32 for classic cognitive training interventions, 0.19 to 7.14 for neuropsychological software interventions, and 0.09 to 1.70 for video game interventions. Most studies reported older adults did not need to be technologically savvy in order to successfully complete or benefit from training. Overall, findings are comparable or better than those from reviews of more traditional, paper-and-pencil cognitive training approaches suggesting that computerized training is an effective, less labor intensive alternative.


Captain's Log

"Our daughter has been struggling with reading since she started her academic learning curve. Though a very hard worker, reading has always been a laborious chore for her. She is currently in 6th grade. During four weeks in August, our daughter completed 20 hours of "Captain's Log" at A Total Approach. Throughout this time, she began voluntarily reading books and found it easier to complete readings and journals required for entry into sixth grade that she had struggled with earlier in the summer. With the right support our daughter can enjoy reading and we are excited about the progress she made this summer, which we attribute to her sessions with "Captain's Log". The best is that she has maintained her progress and willingness to read and has been extremely successful during the current school year."

Upon a recent phone interview Mrs. Kariouk commented that: "If she keeps up this progress, she will be making the honor roll list for the first time!"

John and Kathryn Kariouk – October 2006


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