Adolescent Reasoning Initiative

Compared to other countries, reasoning and critical thinking skills in American adolescents have stagnated in recent decades.

Scientific study at the Center for BrainHealth indicates that innovative thinking skills are assets that can be enhanced, especially during teen years. The brain goes through extensive changes during the early teenage years, making adolescence an optimal time to train reasoning and higher-order thinking skills. To be successful in school, in the workforce and in life, individuals need creativity, innovation, and imagination.

Researchers at the Center for BrainHealth are providing students, teachers and school administrators with advanced reasoning training to build cognitive capacity in our nation’s next generation of leaders. The research-based intervention for teenagers that has been developed, tested, and implemented with more than 50,000 youth and 300 teachers across the country is called Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART).

Developed by cognitive neuroscientists Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman and Dr. Jacquelyn Gamino, SMART trains cognitive strategies that enhance and improve brain efficiency through organization, synthesis, abstraction, and interpretation of meaning. The SMART program teaches students how to learn rather than what to learn, enabling deeper understanding and creativity..


Teachers report more energized, creative and thought-filled classrooms, and parents have stated their children are more confident and excited to learn. Through SMART, BrainHealth has transformed the way in which students, teachers, families and school administrators approach learning. Students who participated in SMART training are more likely to take higher-level classes, to graduate, to attend college and lead productive, successful lives.

In a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, our research team found:

25% INCREASE Students living in poverty showed as much as a 25 percent increase in gist reasoning, or the ability to derive abstract meaning from information presented, after SMART training. This is comparable to the gains made by their peers living above the poverty line.

18% INCREASE The SMART-trained group, regardless of socioeconomic status, showed significant generalized gains and as much as an 18 percent improvement in increased memory for facts, even though this skill was not specifically targeted during training.

COMMENDED SCORES WERE APPROXIMATELY DOUBLE on reading, math, science and social studies.

This initiative is supported by the state of Texas and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), funding from the T. Boone Pickens Foundation, the Meadows Foundation, the RGK Foundation, and the AT&T Foundation.

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