Does working memory training have to be adaptive?
- 916 Downloads
This study tested the common assumption that, to be most effective, working memory (WM) training should be adaptive (i.e., task difficulty is adjusted to individual performance). Indirect evidence for this assumption stems from studies comparing adaptive training to a condition in which tasks are practiced on the easiest level of difficulty only [cf. Klingberg (Trends Cogn Sci 14:317–324, 2010)], thereby, however, confounding adaptivity and exposure to varying task difficulty. For a more direct test of this hypothesis, we randomly assigned 130 young adults to one of the three WM training procedures (adaptive, randomized, or self-selected change in training task difficulty) or to an active control group. Despite large performance increases in the trained WM tasks, we observed neither transfer to untrained structurally dissimilar WM tasks nor far transfer to reasoning. Surprisingly, neither training nor transfer effects were modulated by training procedure, indicating that exposure to varying levels of task difficulty is sufficient for inducing training gains.
KeywordsTask Difficulty Work Memory Training Task Complex Span Active Control Group
This work was supported by a grant to the first author from the Suzanne and Hans Biäsch Foundation for Applied Psychology. We thank Borhan Bas, Linda Horvath, Lukas Lehmann, Cristina Licini, and Rahel Rodenkirch for their assistance with collecting the data. We also thank Esther Haeller, Esther Spirig, and Anja Waldmeier for their help in creating study materials.
- Bates, D. M. (2010). lme4: mixed-effects modeling with R. Retrieved from http://lme4.r-forge.r-project.org/book/.
- Bates, D., Maechler, M., Bolker, B. M., & Walker, S. (2014). lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using Eigen and S4 (Version 1.1–7).Google Scholar
- Bless, H., Wänke, M., Bohner, G., Fellhauer, R. F., & Schwarz, N. (1994). Need for cognition: eine Skala zur Erfassung von Engagement und Freude bei Denkaufgaben : need for cognition: a scale measuring engagement and happiness in cognitive tasks. Zeitschrift für Sozialpsychologie, 25, 147–154.Google Scholar
- Borkenau, P., & Ostendorf, F. (2008). NEO-Fünf-Faktoren-Inventar nach Costa und McCrae (NEO-FFI). Manual (2nd ed.). Göttingen: Hogrefe.Google Scholar
- Colom, R., Román, F. J., Abad, F. J., Shih, P. C., Privado, J., Froufe, M., & Jaeggi, S. M. (2013). Adaptive n-back training does not improve fluid intelligence at the construct level: gains on individual tests suggest that training may enhance visuospatial processing. Intelligence, 41, 712–727. doi: 10.1016/j.intell.2013.09.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Revised NEO personality inventory (NEO PI-R) and NEO five factor inventory (NEO-FFI). Professional manual. Odessa: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
- Cousineau, D. (2005). Confidence intervals in within-subjects designs: a simpler solution to Loftus and Masson’s method. Tutorials in Quantitative Methods for Psychology, 1(1), 42–45.Google Scholar
- Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2015). Intrinsic Motivation Inventory. http://selfdeterminationtheory.org/questionnaires/10-questionnaires/50. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- Dweck, C. S. (1999). Self-theories: their role in motivation, personality, and development. Philadelphia: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Ekstrom, R. B., French, J. W., Harman, H. H., & Dermen, D. (1976). Manual for kit of factor-referenced cognitive tests. Princeton: Educational Testing Service.Google Scholar
- Gibson, B. S., Gondoli, D. M., Kronenberger, W. G., Johnson, A. C., Steeger, C. M., & Morrisey, R. A. (2013). Exploration of an adaptive training regimen that can target the secondary memory component of working memory capacity. Memory and Cognition, 41(5), 726–737. doi: 10.3758/s13421-013-0295-8.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Jaeggi, S. M., Buschkuehl, M., Jonides, J., & Perrig, W. J. (2008). Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(19), 6829–6833. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0801268105.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Klingberg, T., Fernell, E., Olesen, P. J., Johnson, M., Gustafsson, P., Dahlström, K., & Westerberg, H. (2005). Computerized training of working memory in children with ADHD—a randomized, controlled trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44(2), 177–186. doi: 10.1097/00004583-200502000-00010.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Licini, C. (2014). Verbesserung der Lernfähigkeit durch gezieltes Arbeitsgedächtnistraining [Improvement of the Ability Learn Through Working Memory Training]. (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.Google Scholar
- Morey, R. D. (2008). Confidence intervals from normalized data: a correction to Cousineau (2005). Tutorials in Quantitative Methods for Psychology, 4(2), 61–64.Google Scholar
- R Core Team. (2014). R: a language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Retrieved from http://www.R-project.org/.
- Raven, J. C. (1990). Advanced progressive matrices: sets I, II. Oxford: Oxford Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
- Redick, T. S., Shipstead, Z., Harrison, T. L., Hicks, K. L., Fried, D. E., Hambrick, D. Z., & Engle, R. W. (2013). No evidence of intelligence improvement after working memory training: a randomized, placebo-controlled study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142(2), 359–379. doi: 10.1037/a0029082.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Schmiedek, F., Oberauer, K., Wilhelm, O., Süß, H.-M., & Wittmann, W. W. (2007). Individual differences in components of reaction time distributions and their relations to working memory and intelligence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136(3), 414–429. doi: 10.1037/0096-34126.96.36.1994.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Thompson, T. W., Waskom, M. L., Garel, K.-L. A., Cardenas-Iniguez, C., Reynolds, G. O., Winter, R., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2013). Failure of working memory training to enhance cognition or intelligence. PLoS One, 8(5), e63614. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063614.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar