Child neuropsychology : a journal on normal and abnormal development in childhood and adolescence | 5 Apr 2014
J Karbach, T Strobach and T Schubert
Working memory (WM) capacity is highly correlated with general cognitive ability and has proven to be an excellent predictor for academic success. Given that WM can be improved by training, our aim was to test whether WM training benefited academic abilities in elementary-school children. We examined 28 participants (mean age = 8.3 years, SD = 0.4) in a pretest-training-posttest-follow-up design. Over 14 training sessions, children either performed adaptive WM training (training group, n = 14) or nonadaptive low-level training (active control group, n = 14) on the same tasks. Pretest, posttest, and follow-up at 3 months after posttest included a neurocognitive test battery (WM, task switching, inhibition) and standardized tests for math and reading abilities. Adaptive WM training resulted in larger training gains than nonadaptive low-level training. The benefits induced by the adaptive training transferred to an untrained WM task and a standardized test for reading ability, but not to task switching, inhibition, or performance on a standardized math test. Transfer to the untrained WM task was maintained over 3 months. The analysis of individual differences revealed compensatory effects with larger gains in children with lower WM and reading scores at pretest. These training and transfer effects are discussed against the background of cognitive processing resulting from WM span training and the nature of the intervention.
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