Cognitive Intervention Programs in Minors Belonging to Disadvantaged Contexts in Spain: A Systematic Review
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Search Strategy
2.2. Article Review
2.3. Eligibility Criteria
2.4. Selection of Studies
2.5. Data Extraction
2.6. Data Analysis and Synthesis
3.1. Identification of Studies
3.2. Characteristics of the Studies
Reasoning and Perception
Learning in Mathematics, Reading and Writing
- Although there is a scarcity of studies carried out in Spain on the subject, interesting results have been obtained in this review.
- The interventions analysed show, in general, an improvement in the development of cognitive skills in children with low SES. However, due to the heterogeneity between some interventions and others, this statement should be interpreted with caution. It is essential to study in more detail which variables could influence the results obtained.
- In addition to a low SES, some studies also include a population with vulnerable conditions, such as behavioural problems or learning difficulties [32,37,38]. It is relevant that these interventions were successful since it is an important step for the population with these difficulties; often, we do not focus on their strengths and potentialities. These data are consistent with international scientific evidence. For example, Peijnenborgh et al. , in their systematic review of cognitive training in children and adolescents with learning difficulties, show short-term improvements in verbal working memory, visuospatial working memory and decoding of words as results of this training. Similarly, in the study by Rueda et al. (2021) , they state that training of cognitive skills such as working memory, executive attention and cognitive flexibility produces improvements in performance on these tasks, and these benefits appear to be greater for children with lower initial levels of cognitive skills.
- In relation to this, the study by Tellado  compared a sample of children with low levels of planning with a sample with high levels of planning after training, indicating that “those who needed it most gained more” (p. 249). This statement shows the importance of including children with difficulties in the interventions, since they obtain even greater benefits than the rest of the population. Interventions such as those of Sanz de Acedo and Iriarte  and Gil Calvo  also show significant improvements among vulnerable populations after training.
Limitations and Future Directions
- Studies focused on the improvement of cognitive functions in children is very scarce in Spain, but the differences in the execution of the different studies found, can provide us with knowledge about different variables that influence the effectiveness of these interventions, specifically:
- Children with low family SES obtain greater benefits from this type of intervention, since these children manage to develop their cognitive functions significantly compared with a population with a high or medium SES.
- Performing an intervention that considers the different age ranges among minors is essential to developing better training and achieving better results.
- There is a great variety of cognitive functions that have been trained. Thus, in the development of these training programs, the importance of choosing those most appropriate based on the age and conditions of vulnerability of the sample is emphasized.
- Variables such as intervention agents or cotherapists involved in the development of interventions may influence the training results of children and adolescents.
Conflicts of Interest
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|Criterion||Inclusion Criteria||Exclusion Criteria|
|Population||Studies that include children and adolescents aged 5 to 18, both inclusive||The rest of the population|
|Intervention||Cognitive, socioemotional, social or communication skills domains, physical exercise or nutritional supplements||Specific for developmental disorders, physical or mental disabilities|
|Design||All types of studies||Not applicable|
|Publication type||Academic publications, doctoral theses||Other types of educational or informative publications|
|Intervention context||All kinds of contexts||Not applicable|
|Cultural context||At least one group of participants with medium-low or low SES||Only participants of high, medium-high SES|
|Authors||Sample||Groups||Age Range||Added Adversities||Intervention Objective|
|Mata et al., 2018||N = 61||Three groups: group with low SES * attending the program (n = 18); group with low SES not attending the program (n = 16) and group with medium-high SES attending the program (n = 27)||7–12||NS **||Evaluate the effectiveness of a training program|
|Sánchez-Pérez et al., 2018||N = 104||Two groups: training group with low SES (n = 51) and control group with medium-high SES (n = 53)||7–12||NS||Improve cognitive skills|
|Sáiz- Manzanares and Román Sánchez, 1996||N = 25||Two groups: training group with low SES (n = 13) and control group with low SES (n = 12)||5–7||NS||Improve cognitive skills|
|Sanz de Acedo and Iriarte, 2001||N = 109||Two groups: training group with medium-low SES (n = 50) and control group with medium-low SES (n = 59)||14–15||Behavioural problems, learning difficulties and little motivation to study||Evaluate the effectiveness of a training program|
|Tellado, 2001||N = 25||Two groups: training group with low level of planning and medium-low SES (n = 12) and training group with high level of planning and medium-low SES (n = 13).||9–13||Mathematical difficulties or delays in the area of mathematics||Improve cognitive skills|
|Pozuelos-López, 2014||N = 97||Two groups: group with metacognitive feedback with medium-low SES (n = NS) and performance feedback group with medium-low SES (n = NS).||NS||NS||Improve cognitive skills|
|De la Morena-Fernández, 2016||N = 24||Two groups: training group with low SES (n = 12) and control group with low SES (n = 12)||5–10||Economic difficulties and social and family isolation||Evaluate the effectiveness of a training program|
|Gil-Calvo, 2010||N = 12||A group: participants with low SES||16–20||Special educational needs, little knowledge of the Spanish language, unstructured behaviours and behavioural and conceptual deficiencies||Improve cognitive skills|
|Vita-Barrull, et al., 2021||Four groups: two gamified groups with low SES (n = 176) and two non-gamified groups with low SES (n = 107)||6–13||NS||Evaluate the effectiveness of a training program|
|Authors||Type of Intervention||Cognitive Functions Worked||Intervention Agent and Intervention Schedule||Impact Assessment||Results|
|Mata et al., 2018||Cognitive training and psychoeducational intervention||Executive functions (decision-making) and social cognition||External agent (psychologist); Afternoons||Pretraining and posttraining evaluation||In comparison with the group of children with low SES * who did not attend the program, the children with low SES who attended the program showed significant increases in the measures of the dependent variable: decision-making (p = 0.0001). In comparison with the group of children with medium-high SES attending the program, children with low SES attending the program showed significant increases in the measures of the dependent variable: social cognition (p = 0.037).|
|Sánchez-Pérez et al., 2018||Computerized cognitive training||Executive functions (working memory, inhibition and multitasking), learning (mathematics and reading)||Internal agent (faculty); School hours||Pretraining, training and posttraining evaluation||In comparison with the control group with medium-high SES, the training group with low SES shows significant increases in the measures of the dependent variables: mathematics (p = 0.000); language (p = 0.002); inhibition type 1 (p = 0.030), type 2 (p = 0.004), type 3 (p = 0.002) and Nogo (p = 0.001)|
|Sáiz-Manzanares and Román Sánchez, 1996||Cognitive training||Executive functions (planning, decision-making and flexibility) and interpersonal cognition||Internal agent (faculty); School hours||Pretraining, posttraining and follow-up evaluation||In comparison with the control group, the training group shows significant increases in the measures of the dependent variables: flexibility (p = 0.0114); decision-making (p = 0.0001); social cognition (p = 0.0002) and planning (p = 0.0253)|
|Sanz de Acedo and Iriarte, 2001||Cognitive training||Executive functions (decision-making, inhibition and cognitive flexibility)||External agent (researcher); School hours||Pretraining, training, post||In comparison with the control group, the training group shows significant increases in the measures of the dependent variables: flexibility (p < 0.001), decision-making (p < 0.001) and inhibition (p < 0.001).|
|Tellado, 2001||Cognitive training||Executive functions (planning)||External agent (researcher); School hours||Pretraining, training, posttraining and follow-up evaluation||Significant increases in planning scores are shown in both groups (p < 0.00). However, the difference in the total percentage of change between the group of subjects with low planning and those of the group with high planning is 20.83%.|
|Pozuelos-López, 2014||Computerized cognitive training||Executive functions (inhibition and working memory)||NS agent; School hours||Pretraining and posttraining evaluation||In comparison with the performance feedback group, the group with metacognitive feedback shows significant increases in the measures of the dependent variables: inhibition (p < 0.01) and working memory (p < 0.05).|
|De la Morena-Fernández, 2016||Psychoeducational intervention||Social cognition||External agent (researcher); School hours||Preintervention evaluation and postintervention follow-up||In comparison with the control group, the intervention group shows significant increases in the measures of the dependent variable: social cognition.|
|Gil-Calvo, 2010||Cognitive training and psychoeducational intervention||Executive functions: reasoning; Language: oral and written expression; Perception||Internal agent; School hours||NS **||NS|
|Vita-Barrull, et al., 2021||Cognitive training||Executive functions (planning, flexibility, working memory inhibition) and social cognition (emotional control)||Internal agent (faculty); School hours||Pretraining and posttraining evaluation||In comparison with the gamified groups, the non-gamified groups show significant decreases in the measures of the dependent variables: planning (p < 0.001), flexibility (p < 0.001), working memory (p < 0.001), inhibition (p < 0.001) and emotional control (p < 0.001)|
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García-Navarro, C.; Company-Córdoba, R.; Sianes, A.; Ibáñez-Alfonso, J.A. Cognitive Intervention Programs in Minors Belonging to Disadvantaged Contexts in Spain: A Systematic Review. Children 2022, 9, 1306. https://doi.org/10.3390/children9091306
García-Navarro C, Company-Córdoba R, Sianes A, Ibáñez-Alfonso JA. Cognitive Intervention Programs in Minors Belonging to Disadvantaged Contexts in Spain: A Systematic Review. Children. 2022; 9(9):1306. https://doi.org/10.3390/children9091306Chicago/Turabian Style
García-Navarro, Carmen, Rosalba Company-Córdoba, Antonio Sianes, and Joaquín A. Ibáñez-Alfonso. 2022. "Cognitive Intervention Programs in Minors Belonging to Disadvantaged Contexts in Spain: A Systematic Review" Children 9, no. 9: 1306. https://doi.org/10.3390/children9091306