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On the impacts of working memory training on executive functioning.

Salminen T, Strobach T, Schubert T - Front Hum Neurosci (2012)

Bottom Line: In spite of the emergence of several successful training paradigms, the scope of transfer effects has remained mixed.As for the other executive functions, trained participants improved in a task switching situation and in attentional processing.These results, therefore, confirm previous findings that WM can be trained, and additionally, they show that the training effects can generalize to various other tasks tapping on executive functions.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Recent studies have reported improvements in a variety of cognitive functions following sole working memory (WM) training. In spite of the emergence of several successful training paradigms, the scope of transfer effects has remained mixed. This is most likely due to the heterogeneity of cognitive functions that have been measured and tasks that have been applied. In the present study, we approached this issue systematically by investigating transfer effects from WM training to different aspects of executive functioning. Our training task was a demanding WM task that requires simultaneous performance of a visual and an auditory n-back task, while the transfer tasks tapped WM updating, coordination of the performance of multiple simultaneous tasks (i.e., dual-tasks) and sequential tasks (i.e., task switching), and the temporal distribution of attentional processing. Additionally, we examined whether WM training improves reasoning abilities; a hypothesis that has so far gained mixed support. Following training, participants showed improvements in the trained task as well as in the transfer WM updating task. As for the other executive functions, trained participants improved in a task switching situation and in attentional processing. There was no transfer to the dual-task situation or to reasoning skills. These results, therefore, confirm previous findings that WM can be trained, and additionally, they show that the training effects can generalize to various other tasks tapping on executive functions.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Example of a 2-back condition in the dual n-back task that was used as the training task. The visual and auditory stimuli are presented simultaneously at identical rates. Figure adapted from Buschkuehl and colleagues (2007).
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Figure 1: Example of a 2-back condition in the dual n-back task that was used as the training task. The visual and auditory stimuli are presented simultaneously at identical rates. Figure adapted from Buschkuehl and colleagues (2007).

Mentions: Our training task, the dual n-back1, utilized the material described by Jaeggi and colleagues (2007), including simultaneously presented AV and VS stimuli (Figure 1). The AV stimuli consisted of eight German consonants (C, G, H, K, P, Q, T, and W) spoken in random order via headphones. The VS stimuli were blue squares presented one by one on a black background, randomly in eight possible locations. All stimuli were presented for 500 ms, and the interstimulus interval (ISI) was 2500 ms, thus resulting in a stimulus presentation rate of 3 s. A white fixation cross was present throughout each run. Participants reacted by pressing the key “A” with their left index finger for the VS task (i.e., match of square position in the present and n-back trial) and the key “L” with their right index finger for the AV task (i.e., match of consonant in the present and n-back trial). A new run was commenced by pressing the space-bar. Each run started with instructions about the level of n in the upcoming run, and ended with feedback of the participant's performance in the preceding run. The level of n was always the same in both tasks, with each training session starting from level n = 2. For each consecutive run, the n-back level was automatically adjusted so, that if the participant had at least 90% correct in both modalities in the previous run, the level of n in the next run was increased by one. But, if the participant had at most 70% correct in either of the modalities, the level of n was decreased by one in the next run, with the minimum level always being n = 1. In other cases the n-level stayed constant between successive runs. Altogether, 20 runs were completed in each session, and one run consisted of 20 + n trials (e.g., a 2-back task contained 22 trials). The dependent measure was the mean n-back level achieved during a training session.


On the impacts of working memory training on executive functioning.

Salminen T, Strobach T, Schubert T - Front Hum Neurosci (2012)

Example of a 2-back condition in the dual n-back task that was used as the training task. The visual and auditory stimuli are presented simultaneously at identical rates. Figure adapted from Buschkuehl and colleagues (2007).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3368385&req=5

Figure 1: Example of a 2-back condition in the dual n-back task that was used as the training task. The visual and auditory stimuli are presented simultaneously at identical rates. Figure adapted from Buschkuehl and colleagues (2007).
Mentions: Our training task, the dual n-back1, utilized the material described by Jaeggi and colleagues (2007), including simultaneously presented AV and VS stimuli (Figure 1). The AV stimuli consisted of eight German consonants (C, G, H, K, P, Q, T, and W) spoken in random order via headphones. The VS stimuli were blue squares presented one by one on a black background, randomly in eight possible locations. All stimuli were presented for 500 ms, and the interstimulus interval (ISI) was 2500 ms, thus resulting in a stimulus presentation rate of 3 s. A white fixation cross was present throughout each run. Participants reacted by pressing the key “A” with their left index finger for the VS task (i.e., match of square position in the present and n-back trial) and the key “L” with their right index finger for the AV task (i.e., match of consonant in the present and n-back trial). A new run was commenced by pressing the space-bar. Each run started with instructions about the level of n in the upcoming run, and ended with feedback of the participant's performance in the preceding run. The level of n was always the same in both tasks, with each training session starting from level n = 2. For each consecutive run, the n-back level was automatically adjusted so, that if the participant had at least 90% correct in both modalities in the previous run, the level of n in the next run was increased by one. But, if the participant had at most 70% correct in either of the modalities, the level of n was decreased by one in the next run, with the minimum level always being n = 1. In other cases the n-level stayed constant between successive runs. Altogether, 20 runs were completed in each session, and one run consisted of 20 + n trials (e.g., a 2-back task contained 22 trials). The dependent measure was the mean n-back level achieved during a training session.

Bottom Line: In spite of the emergence of several successful training paradigms, the scope of transfer effects has remained mixed.As for the other executive functions, trained participants improved in a task switching situation and in attentional processing.These results, therefore, confirm previous findings that WM can be trained, and additionally, they show that the training effects can generalize to various other tasks tapping on executive functions.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Recent studies have reported improvements in a variety of cognitive functions following sole working memory (WM) training. In spite of the emergence of several successful training paradigms, the scope of transfer effects has remained mixed. This is most likely due to the heterogeneity of cognitive functions that have been measured and tasks that have been applied. In the present study, we approached this issue systematically by investigating transfer effects from WM training to different aspects of executive functioning. Our training task was a demanding WM task that requires simultaneous performance of a visual and an auditory n-back task, while the transfer tasks tapped WM updating, coordination of the performance of multiple simultaneous tasks (i.e., dual-tasks) and sequential tasks (i.e., task switching), and the temporal distribution of attentional processing. Additionally, we examined whether WM training improves reasoning abilities; a hypothesis that has so far gained mixed support. Following training, participants showed improvements in the trained task as well as in the transfer WM updating task. As for the other executive functions, trained participants improved in a task switching situation and in attentional processing. There was no transfer to the dual-task situation or to reasoning skills. These results, therefore, confirm previous findings that WM can be trained, and additionally, they show that the training effects can generalize to various other tasks tapping on executive functions.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus