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Effects of working memory training in young and old adults


Von Bastian, Claudia C; Langer, Nicolas; Jäncke, Lutz; Oberauer, Klaus (2013). Effects of working memory training in young and old adults. Memory & Cognition, 41(4):611-24.

Abstract

Many cognitive abilities, including working memory and reasoning ability, decline with progressing age. In this study, we investigated whether four weeks of intensive working memory training would enhance working memory and reasoning performance in an age-comparative setting. Groups of 34 young (19-36 years) and 27 older (62-77 years) adults practiced tasks representing the three functional categories in the facet model of working memory capacity: storage and processing, relational integration, and supervision. The data were compared to those of a young and an old active control group who practiced tasks with low working memory demands. A cognitive test battery measuring near and far transfer was administered before and after training. Both age groups showed increased working memory performance in the trained tasks and in one structurally similar, but nontrained, task. Young adults also improved in a task measuring word-position binding in working memory. However, we found no far transfer to reasoning in either age group. The results provide evidence that working memory performance can be improved throughout the life span. However, in contrast to a previous study in which each facet of working memory capacity was trained separately, the present study showed that training multiple functional categories simultaneously induces less transfer.

Abstract

Many cognitive abilities, including working memory and reasoning ability, decline with progressing age. In this study, we investigated whether four weeks of intensive working memory training would enhance working memory and reasoning performance in an age-comparative setting. Groups of 34 young (19-36 years) and 27 older (62-77 years) adults practiced tasks representing the three functional categories in the facet model of working memory capacity: storage and processing, relational integration, and supervision. The data were compared to those of a young and an old active control group who practiced tasks with low working memory demands. A cognitive test battery measuring near and far transfer was administered before and after training. Both age groups showed increased working memory performance in the trained tasks and in one structurally similar, but nontrained, task. Young adults also improved in a task measuring word-position binding in working memory. However, we found no far transfer to reasoning in either age group. The results provide evidence that working memory performance can be improved throughout the life span. However, in contrast to a previous study in which each facet of working memory capacity was trained separately, the present study showed that training multiple functional categories simultaneously induces less transfer.

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24 citations in Web of Science®
26 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Date:2013
Deposited On:19 Apr 2013 10:38
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:45
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0090-502X
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-012-0280-7
PubMed ID:23263879

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