A History of the Research Behind the LearningRx Programs

35 years of research, four iterations of programs, and studies on the results of more than 90,000 clients have gone into the making of LearningRx today.

LearningRx wasn’t born overnight. In fact, the company and its programs encompass a long development process of trial and error dating back to 1968. As you’ll read on the timeline below, even significant successes weren’t enough for LearningRx Founder Dr. Ken Gibson. His formula for developing the best cognitive skills training program was always the same: Trials + Results = More Research + More Development.

It took 35 years of repeating this formula with four contiguous experimental programs that Dr. Gibson finally got the fast and unprecedented gains he was after in a one-on-one brain training company. Here is a timeline of some of the most significant research, studies (some with and some without control groups), and developments related to his work in cognitive skills training.

You or your child may or may not see the same improvements seen in these studies. 

Refining brain training to create LearningRx (2002-PRESENT)

2015 — Oliver Hill, Ph.D., Dick Carpenter, Ph.D., Christina Ledbetter, Ph.D., and Amy Lawson Moore, Ph.D. request $2.8 million from the NSF to conduct a three-year randomized, controlled study with fMRI on the effects of MathRx training for improving math and cognitive skills in middle school students.

2015 —University of Virginia school psychology professor Jason Downer, Ph.D. launches a six-month randomized, controlled trial comparing ReadRx with traditional reading tutoring for third and fourth grade at-risk students (Results pending – July 2016).

2015 — Amy Lawson Moore, Ph.D., and Dick Carpenter, Ph.D. create a six-month randomized, controlled study comparing the effects of digital ThinkRx brain training with Chess Math for improving cognitive and academic skills in students at a virtual high school. (In progress)

2015 — Oliver Hill, Ph.D. completes an NSF-funded controlled trial and coauthors “The Efficacy of the LearningRx Cognitive Training Program: Modality and Transfer Effects” accepted for publication in the Journal of Experimental Education. (Results pending)

2015 — Amy Lawson Moore, Ph.D., Dick Carpenter, Ph.D., and Christina Ledbetter, Ph.D. create a six-month randomized, controlled study comparing the effects of one-on-one ThinkRx brain training with 50% one-on-one/50% digital ThinkRx brain training for improving cognitive skills in clients ages 8 to 14. (Results pending)

2015 — Amy Lawson Moore, Ph.D., Dick Carpenter, Ph.D., and Christina Ledbetter, Ph.D. create a three-month randomized, controlled study on the effects of LearningRx brain training for improving cognitive skills in clients ages 8 to 14. The study is under peer review. See the results of the study.

2015 — Neuroscientist Christina Ledbetter, Ph.D., teams with Amy Lawson Moore, Ph.D., and Dick Carpenter, Ph.D. to create a four-month case study with qEEG on the neural correlates and differential effects of ThinkRx cognitive training with twin siblings. (Results pending)

2015—Philip Zelazo, Ph.D. at University of Minnesota launches an NIH-funded pilot study comparing neurofeedback with LearningRx brain training to improve executive function with 40 clients ages 9 to 12. (Results pending)

2015 — Amy Lawson Moore, Ph.D. and Tanya Mitchell conduct a follow-up survey of parents of LearningRx graduates previously diagnosed with dyslexia to examine real-life benefits following brain training. (Results pending)

2015 — LearningRx collaborates with Dick Carpenter, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs to publish a propensity-matched control group study with 61 students ages 6 to 16 to test the effects of LearningRx training on cognitive skills. Dr. Gibson, Dick Carpenter, Ph.D., Amy Lawson Moore, Ph.D., and Tanya Mitchell coauthor “Training the Brain to Learn: Beyond Vision Therapy” in Volume 1, Issue 2 of “Vision Development & Rehabilitation,” the journal of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development—the professional organization governing vision therapists since 1973.

2015 — Amy Lawson Moore, Ph.D. studies characteristics of 150 cognitive trainers that predicted outcomes for 1,195 clients with and without ADHD. Moore examines the predictive value of trainer personality, degree level and field, certification level and pre-hire cognitive screening scores on client gains in long-term memory, working memory, processing speed, and general intelligence. She publishes her dissertation, “Cognitive Trainer Characteristics That Predict Outcomes for Students With and Without ADHD.”

2014 — Amy Lawson Moore, Ph.D. writes, “A Research Review of Cognitive Skills, Strategies and Interventions for Reading Comprehension” including extensive coverage of LearningRx programs and results.

2014 — Lori Bryan, Ph.D. writes, “Traumatic Brain Injury and Cognitive Remediation” including extensive coverage of LearningRx programs and results.

2014 — Amy Lawson Moore, Ph.D. and Tanya Mitchell coauthor “One-on-One Cognitive Training with Supplemental Digital Delivery for Traumatic Brain Injury” based on LearningRx results.

2014 — Lori Bryan, Ph.D. writes, “Autism and Cognitive Remediation” including extensive coverage of LearningRx programs and results.

2014 — LearningRx releases its second data report on retention results from 2011-2012. The results include pre- and post-test results and the percent of gain retained (14.4 months average) following the post-training testing of 526 clients.

2014 — LearningRx releases its second Results Report. The report contains data on average gains derived from the scores of every client (about 6,000) who participated in LearningRx in 2011-2012 at 80 brain training centers throughout the U.S. The clients underwent an average of 18 weeks (90 hours) of training to improve logic & reasoning, short-term memory, processing speed, auditory and visual processing, and long-term memory. The results show that after brain training, the mean gain in IQ was 14.6 points (15 points for those who completed all of their training in a LearningRx Center), with an average percentile increase of 25.7 and average age-equivalent increase of 3.7 years. Pre-test to post-test gains are measured using the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities and the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement.

2014 — The Gibson Institute of Cognitive Research opens to connect with independent researchers, analyze current observational studies, submit publications to peer-reviewed journals, and standardize the collection of Gibson Tests. The institute is directed by educational psychologist Amy Lawson Moore, Ph.D.

2013 — Lori Bryan, Ph.D. writes “Dyslexia and Reading Problems” including extensive coverage of LearningRx programs and results.

2013 — Brian E. Pfister, Ph.D. publishes his dissertation, “The Effect of Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy on Memory and Processing Speed in Adolescents,” based on LearningRx data that included before and after Woodcock Johnson III scores of 1,277 adolescents who were trained in LearningRx Centers.

2012 — Dr. Leonard J. Press writes “Historical Perspectives on Auditory and Visual Processing” for the Journal of Behavioral Optometry (Volume 23) naming Dr. Gibson as a pioneer in processing and cognitive enhancement.

2012 — Lori Bryan, Ph.D. writes “Brain Plasticity and Cognition: A Review of the Literature” including extensive coverage of LearningRx programs and results.

2012 — Edward Jedlicka, Ph.D. uses an observational survey completed by parents to evaluate whether LearningRx brain training produced noticeable, real-life improvements in their children, especially in the areas of cognitive skills, academic success, and oppositional behavior. Jedlicka publishes a dissertation on his findings “The Real-Life Benefits of Cognitive Training.”

2011 — LearningRx releases its Results Report containing data on average gains derived from the scores of every client (nearly 3,000) who participated in LearningRx brain training in 2009 at 70 brain training centers throughout the U.S. The clients underwent an average of 18 weeks (90 hours) of training to improve logic & reasoning, short-term memory, processing speed, auditory and visual processing, and long-term memory. The results show that after brain training, clients with severe cognitive weaknesses “moved up in line” an average of 30 percentile points. Clients with moderate cognitive weaknesses “moved up in line” an average of 28 percentile points. Clients with above-average cognitive skills “moved up in line” an average of about 10 percentile points. Measurements of gains were measured using the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities and the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement.

2011 — Dr. Poonam Ishanpara analyzes the pre-test and post-test scores of 39 adults with traumatic brain injury. Her results indicate statistically significant differences in long-term memory, short-term memory, and working memory after LearningRx training. She publishes a dissertation on her findings: “Cognitive Rehabilitation With LearningRx: Preliminary Improvements in Memory After Traumatic Brain Injury.

2011 — LearningRx is chosen to take part in a National Science Foundation study about how cognitive intervention can make permanent, significant changes to the brain. The project, which is led by Virginia State University Psychology Chair Dr. Oliver Hill, Jr., measures physical changes in the brain before, mid-way, and after local child and teen participants undergo brain training at the Shreveport LearningRx Brain Training Center. In addition to the brain training, the first half of the study includes having participants take four surveys and the Gibson Cognitive Assessment while at the LearningRx Center. The second portion of the study uses functional magnetic resonance imagining (fMRI) to provide images of the brain while the participants perform certain tasks. The scans are taken in the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia. The results show significant post-training neuronal connections in the cerebellum (manuscript in preparation).

2010 — LearningRx launches a pilot TBI brain training program at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. In partnership with the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, LearningRx provides brain training to soldiers with traumatic brain injuries in an effort to regain or improve brain skills impaired as a result of their injuries. To measure the effectiveness of the training program, Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities, a nationally recognized standard battery of cognitive tests, are used to conduct pre- and post-tests. The results of the pilot program showed that the 11 Warrior Transition Battalion soldiers who completed the program gained significant improvement in all six areas of cognitive functioning, including processing speed, auditory and visual processing, short-term and long-term memory, and logic and reasoning.

2010 — LearningRx releases its first data on retention results from 2005-2010. The results include pre- and post-test results and the percentage of gains retained (14.4 months average) following the post-training testing of 738 clients.

2009 — Doctoral student Alicia J. Luckey, M.A., publishes a dissertation on “Cognitive and Academic Gains As a Result of Cognitive Training” after studying the impact of LearningRx brain training on General Intellectual Ability, memory, and reading in clients with ADHD, clients with dyslexia, and clients who were not reported to have any type of disability.

2009 — Dick Carpenter, Ph.D. writes “Testing the Effects of LearningRx: 2009 Control Group Study” based on the results of a 2009 LearningRx study that measured gains in cognitive abilities using the Woodcock-Johnson III.

2008 – Audiologists Dr. Jody Jedlicka and Dawn Booth, M.S. present “The Impact of LearningRx Training: Auditory Processing Disorder Testing Results” at the annual LearningRx convention.

2007 — Doctoral student Alicia J. Luckey, M.A., writes a paper, “Effectiveness of LearningRx Cognitive Skills Training Programs: An In-Depth Look at the Lowest Quartile,” using LearningRx 2006 T-81 training results of 2,080 clients who completed LearningRx programs in 2006.

2007 — Dr. Gibson writes “Unlock the Einstein Inside: Applying New Brain Science to Wake Up the Smart in Your Child.” The book incorporates the results of many studies and other scientific research—from Gibson and others—on cognitive training and plasticity.

2006 — Roxana Marachi, Ph.D. writes “Statistical Analyses of Cognitive Change with LearningRx Training Procedures” after analyzing the pre-training and post-training Woodcock-Johnson III scores of 1,265 LearningRx clients who participated in the program in 2005.

2006 — Pernilla Lovegrove writes her senior paper, “A Comparison of Theoretical Perspectives and Outcomes of Medical, Behavioral, Cognitive, and Nutritional Treatments of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder” using LearningRx results.

2005 — Using the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities, LearningRx results show a significant change in IQ after brain training. Of 1,324 clients (average age at pre-test was 11.5), the average pre-test IQ was 91 and average post-test IQ was 104.

2005 — ReadRx launches.

2002 — Dr. Gibson opens the first LearningRx Center in Colorado Springs and decides to franchise.

The Launch of Master the Code, the Foundation of ReadRx (2000-2001)

2001 — Dr. Gibson analyzes the results of studies using PACE and the Master the Code (MTC) Reading Program, reporting gains of 4.8 years on the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities, 6.1 years on the Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests of Visual-Auditory Learning, a 2.7-year gain on the Woodcock Reading Mastery Word Attack Test, and 3.4 years on the Lindamood Auditory Conceptualization Test.

2000 — Dr. Gibson creates the Master the Code (MTC) Reading Program based on the research from a 10-year federal government $60 million project to gather the results of 130 reading programs.

The Birth of PACE (1994-1999)

1998 — Dr. Gibson takes PACE to Florida, training six fourth- and fifth-graders at Jubilee Christian Academy in Pensacola. The control study examines cognitive skills improvements on the Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude-3 after 30 hours of PACE training. The results for the experimental group show gains in visual processing of 2.7 years, memory of 3.9 years, and auditory processing of 3.9 years compared to the control group gains of 2.3, 1.0, and 1.0 years respectively. After the fourth- and fifth-graders completed their training, they each trained a first grade student for one hour per day for eight weeks. The seven first-graders in the control group (no training) had average gains of 1.0, 1.5, and 1.5 years for visual processing, memory, and auditory processing respectively whereas the four first-graders receiving training had average gains of 3.8, 2.9, and 2.9 years for visual processing, memory, and auditory processing respectively.

1997 — A study of 166 children and adults who completed PACE training finds increased post-test gains when using TONI-2 measurements. The average change in nonverbal IQ for 103 clients whose pre-test scores were below age was 2.93 years. The average change in nonverbal IQ for the 63 clients whose pre-test scores were two or more years below age was 3.28 years.

1996 — A study of 174 children and adults who completed PACE training finds increased post-test gains when using TONI-2 measurements. The average change in nonverbal IQ for the 65 clients whose pre-test score was greater than 100 was 9.89 points. The average change in nonverbal IQ for the 91 clients whose pre-test score was less or equal to 100 was 28.15 points.

1995 — Dr. Gibson evaluates the pre- and post-test data from an optometrist in Great Falls, Montana who used the visual processing and cognitive training program. Of the clients whose cognitive skills were scored “below age” on the pre-test, there is an average nonverbal IQ increase of 3.12 years. For those clients whose cognitive skills were scored “two or more years below age” on the pre-test, there is an average nonverbal IQ increase of 4.55 years.

1995 — Using the pre- and post-test data from both VIP and PACE clients, Dr. Gibson writes a report on the effectiveness of the VIP and PACE Cognitive and Processing Training Programs. (Both programs are 10 weeks in length consisting of 30 hours of one-on-one training and prescribed home activities.) For the first time, results are measured using IQ tests. The results of the TONI-2 (Test of Nonverbal Intelligence) measure a 15-point increase in IQ, and the Structure of Intelligence (SOI) and the Detroit Test of Learning Aptitudes measure a 12- to 15-point increase in IQ. The report also includes data from a small controlled study (n = 37) showing composite gains of 2.2 years with a treatment group in Indiana and 2.8 years with a group in Illinois, versus no gains in the control group.

1994 — Testing is upgraded to nationally recognized tools like the Woodcock-Johnson tests, the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP), and the Detroit Test of Learning Aptitude.

1994 — Dr. Gibson collaborates with Doug Smith, Ph.D. of the Department of Psychology of Southern Illinois University to do a study on cognitive training.

1994 — After reviewing the results of the VIP program over the past seven years and learning much more about cognitive skills, Dr. Gibson decides to develop a new program that eliminated some visual procedures but added auditory processing, long- and short-term memory, and logic & reasoning training. The new program is called PACE: Processing and Cognitive Enhancement, and it is initially introduced exclusively through psychologists. The results are impressive—beyond anything to date—so PACE is later opened to physicians, educators, optometrists, and others.

Assembling a Team of Cognitive and Motor Skills Experts (1975-1993)

1992 — Dr. Gibson does an observational study of 35 clients’ pre- and post-test data sent (from optometrists) using the TONI-2. Again, the results show remarkable improvement in cognitive skills.

In addition, he uses a five-point scale to include the clients’ parents’ observations (i.e., subjective measurement). These included the effectiveness of the program (3.9), the value in terms of time and money (4.0), and the rating on learning (attention = 3.7, behavior = 3.4, accuracy = 3.6, speed = 3.6, energy = 3.6, and self-esteem = 4.1).

1988 — After collecting data on 288 clients from eight of the optometrists using the VIP Program, Dr. Gibson discovered that the program was increasing IQ (using TONI-2: Test Of Nonverbal Intelligence). However, he saw only minimal improvement in reading, which pushes Dr. Gibson to do more research on reading.

1986 — Incorporating everything he has learned over the one-year hiatus, Dr. Gibson launches the Vision Improvement Program (VIP), a 10-week, 30-hour program of mostly visual processing with some traditional visual therapy. Using four different measures (including the SOI-LA Structure of Intellect and Learning Abilities Test) to measure short-term memory, logic, visual-motor, processing speed, and selective attention, Dr. Gibson determines that his program is resulting in an average of 2.9 skill years of improvement. This is twice the improvement of the previous program, but within one-quarter of the time. Other optometrists begin to learn about the impressive results and eventually, Dr. Gibson licenses the program to more than 200 optometrists in the U.S.

1985: As part of his research and continued pursuit of excellence in the field of cognitive skills training, Dr. Gibson learns from Dr. Robert Pepper, the optometrist for the Portland Trailblazers, who introduces him to the importance of loading and adding intensity to the training of specific skills. This, combined with sequencing, immediate feedback, targeting specific skills, and making sure training is fun had been the hallmark of Dr. Gibson’s cognitive training.

1985 — Unhappy with the program being just “better than average,” Dr. Gibson discontinues his learning center for an entire year to do more research. The research includes three main components: reading research, studying training methods, and understanding computer games.

1975 — Despite the impressive reading gains at his chain of preschools, Dr. Gibson is convinced that there is more room to improve other cognitive skills involved in learning. He assembles a team of experts—in auditory processing, fine motor skills, and early education—to complement his expertise in visual processing and visual training. Together, the team develops a strong program in perception and sensory-motor training and they open The Learning Center. The results showed about twice the gain as what was being achieved in the average special education program.

The Early Years: Trial and Error (1968-1974)

1972 — Dr. Gibson begins looking at preschools for his daughter Kim. When he is unable to find anything that he feels will advance her learning, he starts his own preschool using teaching machines, sensory-motor training, and a reading program. The preschoolers who were in the program for two years entered kindergarten reading at a second-grade level.

1968 — Dr. Gibson opens his first pediatric optometry practice with the goal of helping kids with learning and reading problems. He soon learns that only a small percentage of children’s learning struggles are caused by poor vision. He then starts researching how we process visual information.