Nov 02

Entertainment Software and Cognitive Neurotherapeutics Society 2011 (San Francisco, CA)

Sequence-specific and non-specific gains in working memory following cognitive training

Gigler, K.L. & Reber, P.J.

Working memory (WM) refers to the ability to hold a limited amount of information in mind for a short period of time and is a core cognitive component important for many higher-level cognitive functions, including problem solving and language comprehension. An increasing volume of research indicates that individual WM capacity can be enhanced through training, potentially improving cognitive performance in a variety of domains; however, a major challenge to realizing the value of this approach lies in the tendency of WM gains to be domain-specific, limited to only trained material. The current research utilized a novel visuo-spatial WM training task based on a game-like sequence learning task. It is comprised of two phases wherein a sequence of moving visual cues is first observed and then replicated following a 2-second delay, during which the sequence must be held in WM. Training was adaptive in that the length of the sequences increased as participants improved, increasing demands on WM and maintaining a challenging and engaging level of difficulty. Participants completed 450 trials of training over 2 hour-long sessions across 2 days, with a repeating sequence of spatial locations covertly embedded in 20% of trials. Increased WM capacity was found after training for both repeating and novel sequences, although observed gains were larger for the repeating sequence. The sequence-specific improvements reflect the potential for hyper-specific gains in WM capacity following training, analogous to domain-specific improvements, while the task-general gains indicate the potential for expanding general WM function through cognitive training using this task.

Leave a Reply