Advertisement

Journal of Cognitive Enhancement

, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 358–373 | Cite as

Improving Older Adults’ Working Memory: the Influence of Age and Crystallized Intelligence on Training Outcomes

  • A. HeringEmail author
  • B. Meuleman
  • C. Bürki
  • E. Borella
  • M. Kliegel
Original Article

Abstract

To counter age-related decline in cognitive abilities, interventions such as working memory trainings have shown some promising results in old age. Yet, findings are mixed and there is enormous interindividual variability in training and transfer effects. Thus, it is still an open question which person-specific factors may moderate training and transfer effects in working memory interventions in older adults. The present study investigated this issue in the context of an established verbal working memory training. Eighty-eight participants (age range 60–82 years) performed either four sessions of the Borella et al. (Psychology and Aging 25(4):767–778, 2010) working memory training or of a visual search training as active control condition or belonged to a passive control group. Before and after the training, participants performed a test battery to assess different cognitive abilities and everyday competence. Furthermore, we included questionnaires on personality factors and intrinsic motivation as possible covariates. The training group showed a substantial training gain in the working memory criterion task that was not found in the active control group. Furthermore, only participants of the working memory training showed also near transfer to another working memory task. No far transfer effects including everyday competence emerged. In terms of possible moderators, age and crystallized intelligence influenced the training and transfer gain in the training group. In conclusion, our results showed that working memory can be improved in older adults and improvements transfer to a non-trained working memory task. However, person-specific factors have to be considered to understand who benefits from the training and why.

Keywords

Cognitive training Older adults Working memory Transfer Prospective memory 

Notes

Acknowledgements

MK acknowledges the support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). We thank Thomas Redick (Purdue University) for providing us the task for our active control training group.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All participants signed an informed consent prior to study participation. The study was approved by the local ethics committee of the University of Geneva.

References

  1. Au, J., Sheehan, E., Tsai, N., Duncan, G. J., Buschkuehl, M., & Jaeggi, S. M. (2015). Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory: a meta-analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 22, 366–377.  https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-014-0699-x.
  2. Baddeley, A. (2003). Working memory: looking back and looking forward. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 4(10), 829–839.  https://doi.org/10.1038/Nrn1201.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Barulli, D., & Stern, Y. (2013). Efficiency, capacity, compensation, maintenance, plasticity: emerging concepts in cognitive reserve. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17(10), 502–509.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2013.08.012.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Berch, D. B., Krikorian, R., & Huha, E. M. (1998). The Corsi block-tapping task: methodological and theoretical considerations. Brain and Cognition, 38(3), 317–338.  https://doi.org/10.1006/Brcg.1998.1039.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Borella, E., Carbone, E., Pastore, M., De Beni, R., & Carretti, B. (2017). Working memory training for healthy older adults: the role of individual characteristics in explaining short- and long-term gains. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11(99).  https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2017.00099.
  6. Borella, E., Carretti, B., & De Beni, R. (2008). Working memory and inhibition across the adult life-span. Acta Psychologica, 128(1), 33–44.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2007.09.008.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Borella, E., Carretti, B., Riboldi, F., & De Beni, R. (2010). Working memory training in older adults: evidence of transfer and maintenance effects. Psychology and Aging, 25(4), 767–778.  https://doi.org/10.1037/A0020683.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Borella, E., Carretti, B., Zanoni, G., Zavagnin, M., & De Beni, R. (2013). Working memory training in old age: an examination of transfer and maintenance effects. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 28(4), 331–347.  https://doi.org/10.1093/Arclin/Act020.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Brehmer, Y., Westerberg, H., & Backman, L. (2012). Working-memory training in younger and older adults: training gains, transfer, and maintenance. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6(63).  https://doi.org/10.3389/Fnhum.2012.00063.
  10. Brom, S. S., Schnitzspahn, K. M., Melzer, M., Hagner, F., Bernhard, A., & Kliegel, M. (2014). Fluid mechanics moderate the effect of implementation intentions on a health prospective memory task in older adults. European Journal of Ageing, 11(1), 89–98.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10433-013-0288-2.
  11. Brose, A., Schmiedek, F., Lövdén, M., Molenaar, P. C. M., & Lindenberger, U. (2010). Adult age differences in covariation of motivation and working memory performance: contrasting between-person and within-person findings. Research in Human Development, 7(1), 61–78.  https://doi.org/10.1080/15427600903578177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bürki, C. N., Ludwig, C., Chicherio, C., & de Ribaupierre, A. (2014). Individual differences in cognitive plasticity: an investigation of training curves in younger and older adults. Psychological Research, 78(6), 821–835.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-014-0559-3.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Cacioppo, J. T., & Petty, R. E. (1982). The need for cognition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42(1), 116–131.  https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514.42.1.116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cantarella, A., Borella, E., Carretti, B., Kliegel, M., & de Beni, R. (2017). Benefits in tasks related to everyday life competences after a working memory training in older adults. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 32(1), 86–93.  https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.4448.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Carretti, B., Borella, E., Zavagnin, M., & De Beni, R. (2011). Impact of metacognition and motivation on the efficacy of strategic memory training in older adults: analysis of specific, transfer and maintenance effects. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 52(3), E192–E197.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.archger.2010.11.004.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Carretti, B., Borella, E., Zavagnin, M., & de Beni, R. (2013). Gains in language comprehension relating to working memory training in healthy older adults. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 28(5), 539–546.  https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.3859.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Four ways five factors are basic. Personality and Individual Differences, 13(6), 653–665.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0191-8869(92)90236-I.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Daneman, M., & Carpenter, P. A. (1980). Individual-differences in working memory and reading. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 19(4), 450–466.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-5371(80)90312-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Deci, E. L., Egharri, H., Patrick, B. C., & Leone, D. R. (1994). Facilitating internalization—the self-determination theory perspective. Journal of Personality, 62(1), 119–142.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.1994.tb00797.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Delaloye, C., Ludwig, C., Borella, E., Chicherio, C., & de Ribaupierre, A. (2008). L’Empan de lecture comme épreuve mesurant la capacité de mémoire de travail : normes basées sur une population francophone de 775 adultes jeunes et âgés. Revue Européenne de Psychologie Appliquée/European Review of Applied Psychology, 58(2), 89–103.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erap.2006.12.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dinno, A. (2012). paran: Horn’s test of principal components/factors (Version R package version 1.5.1).Google Scholar
  22. Fox, J. G., & Weisberg, S. (2011). An R companion to applied regression (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  23. Friedman, J. (1991). Multivariate adaptive regression splines (with discussion). Annals of Statistics, 19(1), 1–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ginet, A., & Py, J. (2000). Need for cognition: a French scale for children and its consequences on a sociocognitive level. L'Année Psychologique, 100(4), 585–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Green, C. S., Strobach, T., & Schubert, T. (2014). On methodological standards in training and transfer experiments. Psychological Research, 78(6), 756–772.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-013-0535-3.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Hastie, T., Tibshirani, R., & Friedman, J. (2009). The elements of statistical learning (2nd ed.). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Heinzel, S., Schulte, S., Onken, J., Duong, Q. L., Riemer, T. G., Heinz, A., et al. (2014). Working memory training improvements and gains in non-trained cognitive tasks in young and older adults. Aging Neuropsychology and Cognition, 21(2), 146–173.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13825585.2013.790338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hering, A., Wild-Wall, N., Gajewski, P. D., Falkenstein, M., Kliegel, M., & Zinke, K. (2016). The role of cue detection for prospective memory development across the lifespan. Neuropsychologia, 93(Part A), 289–300.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.11.008.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Horn, J. L. (1965). A rationale and a test for the number of factors in factor analysis. Psychometrika, 30, 179–185.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Jaeggi, S. M., Buschkuehl, M., Shah, P., & Jonides, J. (2014). The role of individual differences in cognitive training and transfer. Memory & Cognition, 42(3), 464–480.  https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-013-0364-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Karbach, J., & Verhaeghen, P. (2014). Making working memory work: a meta-analysis of executive-control and working memory training in older adults. Psychological Science.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797614548725.
  32. Kliegel, M., Altgassen, M., Hering, A., & Rose, N. S. (2011). A process-model based approach to prospective memory impairment in Parkinson’s disease. Neuropsychologia, 49(8), 2166–2177.  https://doi.org/10.1016/J.Neuropsychologia.2011.01.024.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Kliegel, M., McDaniel, M. A., & Einstein, G. O. (2000). Plan formation, retention, and execution in prospective memory: a new approach and age-related effects. Memory & Cognition, 28(6), 1041–1049.  https://doi.org/10.3758/Bf03209352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kueider, A. M., Parisi, J. M., Gross, A. L., & Rebok, G. W. (2012). Computerized cognitive training with older adults: a systematic review. Plos One, 7(7), e40588.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0040588.
  35. Lampit, A., Hallock, H., & Valenzuela, M. (2014). Computerized cognitive training in cognitively healthy older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of effect modifiers. Plos Medicine, 11(11), e1001756.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001756.
  36. Lövdén, M., Bäckman, L., Lindenberger, U., Schaefer, S., & Schmiedek, F. (2010). A theoretical framework for the study of adult cognitive plasticity. Psychological Bulletin, 136(4), 659–676.  https://doi.org/10.1037/A0020080.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. McAuley, E., Duncan, T., & Tammen, V. V. (1989). Psychometric properties of the intrinsic motivation inventory in a competitive sport setting—a confirmatory factor-analysis. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 60(1), 48–58.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Melby-Lervag, M., & Hulme, C. (2013). Is working memory training effective? A meta-analytic review. Developmental Psychology, 49(2), 270–291.  https://doi.org/10.1037/A0028228.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Melby-Lervag, M., & Hulme, C. (2016). There is no convincing evidence that working memory training is effective: a reply to Au et al. (2014) and Karbach and Verhaeghen (2014). Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23(1), 324-330.  https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-015-0862-z.
  40. Milborrow, S. (2017). Earth: multivariate adaptive regression splines (Version R package version 4.4.9.).Google Scholar
  41. Milner, B. (1971). Interhemispheric differences in localization of psychological processes in man. British Medical Bulletin, 27(3), 272–277.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Minear, M., Brasher, F., Guerrero, C. B., Brasher, M., Moore, A., & Sukeena, J. (2016). A simultaneous examination of two forms of working memory training: evidence for near transfer only. Memory & Cognition, 44(7), 1014–1037.  https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-016-0616-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Morrison, A. B., & Chein, J. M. (2011). Does working memory training work? The promise and challenges of enhancing cognition by training working memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18(1), 46–60.  https://doi.org/10.3758/S13423-010-0034-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Park, D. C., Lautenschlager, G., Hedden, T., Davidson, N. S., Smith, A. D., & Smith, P. K. (2002). Models of visuospatial and verbal memory across the adult life span. Psychology and Aging, 17(2), 299–320.  https://doi.org/10.1037//0882-7974.17.2.299.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Raven, J. C., Court, J. H., & Raven, J. (1996). Manual for Raven’s progressive matrices and Mill Hill vocabulary scales. Standard progressive matrices. Oxford: Oxford Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  46. Redick, T. S., Shipstead, Z., Harrison, T. L., Hicks, K. L., Fried, D. E., Hambrick, D. Z., … Engle, R. (2013). No evidence of intelligence improvement after working memory training: a randomized, placebo-controlled study. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142(2), 359–379.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0029082.
  47. Reitan, R. (1979). Trail-making test. Arizona: Reitan Neuropsychology Laboratory.Google Scholar
  48. Revelle, W. (2016). Psych: procedures for personality and psychological research (Version R package version 1.6.12).Google Scholar
  49. Robert, C., Borella, E., Fagot, D., Lecerf, T., & de Ribaupierre, A. (2009). Working memory and inhibitory control across the life span: intrusion errors in the reading span test. Memory & Cognition, 37(3), 336–345.  https://doi.org/10.3758/Mc.37.3.336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rose, N. S., Rendell, P. G., Hering, A., Kliegel, M., Bidelman, G., & Craik, F. I. M. (2015). Cognitive and neural plasticity in older adults’ prospective memory following training with the Virtual Week computer game. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9(592).  https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00592.
  51. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68–78.  https://doi.org/10.1037//0003-066x.55.1.68.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Schnitzspahn, K. M., Stahl, C., Zeintl, M., Kaller, C. P., & Kliegel, M. (2013). The role of shifting, updating, and inhibition in prospective memory performance in young and older adults. Developmental Psychology, 49(8), 1544–1553.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0030579.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Soveri, A., Antfolk, J., Karlsson, L., Salo, B., & Laine, M. (2017). Working memory training revisited: a multi-level meta-analysis of n-back training studies. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 24(4), 1077–1096.  https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-016-1217-0.
  54. Stern, Y. (2002). What is cognitive reserve? Theory and research application of the reserve concept. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 8(3), 448–460.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355617702813248.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Stroop, J. R. (1935). Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 18, 643–662.  https://doi.org/10.1037/H0054651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Studer-Luethi, B., Jaeggi, S. M., Buschkuehl, M., & Perrig, W. J. (2012). Influence of neuroticism and conscientiousness on working memory training outcome. Personality and Individual Differences, 53(1), 44–49.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2012.02.012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tomaszewski Farias, S., Cahn-Weiner, D. A., Harvey, D. J., Reed, B. R., Mungas, D., Kramer, J. H., & Chui, H. (2009). Longitudinal changes in memory and executive functioning are associated with longitudinal change in instrumental activities of daily living in older adults. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 23(3), 446–461.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13854040802360558.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Vallerand, R. J., Blais, M. R., Briere, N. M., & Pelletier, L. G. (1989). The construction and validation of a new measure of motivation toward education, Ecmelle-De-Motivation-En-Education (Eme). Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science-Revue Canadienne Des Sciences Du Comportement, 21(3), 323–349.  https://doi.org/10.1037/h0079855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Vercambre, M. N., Cuvelier, H., Gayon, Y. A., Hardy-Leger, I., Berr, C., Trivalle, C., et al. (2010). Validation study of a French version of the modified telephone interview for cognitive status (F-TICS-m) in elderly women. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 25(11), 1142–1149.  https://doi.org/10.1002/Gps.2447.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. von Bastian, C. C., & Oberauer, K. (2013). Effects and mechanisms of working memory training: a review. Psychological Research, 78(6), 803–820.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-013-0524-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wechsler, D. (2011). Échelle d'intelligence de Wechsler pour adultes (WAIS-IV) - 4ème édition. Paris, France: ecpa.Google Scholar
  62. Weicker, J., Villringer, A., & Thone-Otto, A. (2016). Can impaired working memory functioning be improved by training? A meta-analysis with a special focus on brain injured patients. Neuropsychology, 30(2), 190–212.  https://doi.org/10.1037/neu0000227.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Willis, S. (1994). Test administration manual for everyday problems for cognitively challenged elderly. University Park Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University.Google Scholar
  64. Woods, S. P., Weinborn, M., Li, Y. Q. R., Hodgson, E., Ng, A. R. J., & Bucks, R. S. (2015). Does prospective memory influence quality of life in community-dwelling older adults? Aging Neuropsychology and Cognition, 22(6), 679–692.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13825585.2015.1027651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Woods, S. P., Weinborn, M., Velnoweth, A., Rooney, A., & Bucks, R. S. (2012). Memory for intentions is uniquely associated with instrumental activities of daily living in healthy older adults. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 18(1), 134–138.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355617711001263.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Zinke, K., Zeintl, M., Rose, N. S., Putzmann, J., Pydde, A., & Kliegel, M. (2014). Working memory training and transfer in older adults: effects of age, baseline performance, and training gains. Developmental Psychology, 50(1), 304–315.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0032982.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculté de Psychologie et Sciences de l’EducationUniversité de GenèveGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Swiss Center for Affective SciencesUniversité de GenèveGenevaSwitzerland
  3. 3.University Center for Medicine of AgingFelix Platter-HospitalBaselSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of General PsychologyUniversity of PadovaPadovaItaly
  5. 5.Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Gerontology and VulnerabilityUniversité de GenèveGenevaSwitzerland
  6. 6.Swiss National Center of Competences in Research LIVES–Overcoming Vulnerability: Life Course PerspectivesLausanne and GenevaSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations