Journal of Cognitive Enhancement

, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 419–433 | Cite as

Training Change Detection Leads to Substantial Task-Specific Improvement

  • Martin BuschkuehlEmail author
  • Susanne M. Jaeggi
  • Shane T. Mueller
  • Priti Shah
  • John Jonides
Original Article


Previous research has demonstrated that adaptive training of working memory can substantially increase performance on the trained task. Such training effects have been reported for performance on simple span tasks, complex span tasks, and n-back tasks. Another task that has become a popular vehicle for studying working memory is the change-detection paradigm. In a typical change-detection trial, one has to determine whether a set of stimuli is identical to a set that was presented just previously. Here, we developed an adaptive training regimen comprised of increasingly difficult change-detection trials to assess the degree to which individuals’ change-detection performance can be improved with practice. In contrast to previous work, our results demonstrate that participants are able to dramatically improve their performance in change detection over the course of 10 training sessions. We attribute this improvement to the current training method that adaptively adjusted the set size of the change-detection task to the proficiency of the trainee. Despite these considerable training effects, an exploratory investigation revealed that these improvements remained highly task specific and may not generalize to untrained tasks.


Working memory Visual array comparison Practice 



The authors would like to thank Nelson Cowan for comments on the initial results of this experiment.

Funding Information

This work was supported by the Office of Naval Research Grant N00014-09-0213 and the Institute of Education Sciences Grant R324A090164

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

SMJ has an indirect financial interest in the MIND Research Institute. MB is employed at MIND Research Institute whose interest is related to this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Buschkuehl
    • 1
    Email author
  • Susanne M. Jaeggi
    • 2
  • Shane T. Mueller
    • 3
  • Priti Shah
    • 4
  • John Jonides
    • 4
  1. 1.MIND Research InstituteIrvineUSA
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA
  3. 3.Department of Cognitive and Learning SciencesMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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