Expanding the mind’s workspace: Training and transfer effects with a complex working memory span task
In the present study, a novel working memory (WM) training paradigm was used to test the malleability of WM capacity and to determine the extent to which the benefits of this training could be transferred to other cognitive skills. Training involved verbal and spatial versions of a complex WM span task designed to emphasize simultaneous storage and processing requirements. Participants who completed 4 weeks of WM training demonstrated significant improvements on measures of temporary memory. These WM training benefits generalized to performance on the Stroop task and, in a novel finding, promoted significant increases in reading comprehension. The results are discussed in relation to the hypothesis that WM training affects domain-general attention control mechanisms and can thereby elicit far-reaching cognitive benefits. Implications include the use of WM training as a general tool for enhancing important cognitive skills.
KeywordsReading Comprehension Work Memory Span Task List Length Fluid Intelligence
- Chase, W. G., & Simon, H. A. (1973). The mind’s eye in chess. In W. G. Chase (Ed.), Visual information processing (pp. 215–281). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Conway, A. R. A., Kane, M. J., Bunting, M. F., Hambrick, D. Z., Wilhelm, O., & Engle, R. W. (2005). Working memory span tasks: A methodological review and user’s guide. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 12, 769–786.Google Scholar
- Cowan, N., Elliott, E. M., Saults, J. S., Morey, C. C., Mattox, S., Hismjatullina, A., & Conway, A. R. A. (2005). On the capacity of attention: Its estimation and its role in working memory and cognitive aptitudes. Cognitive Psychology, 51, 42–100. doi:10.1016/ j.cogpsych.2004.12.001CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Engle, R. W., & Kane, M. J. (2004). Executive attention, working memory capacity, and a two-factor theory of cognitive control. In B. H. Ross (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation (Vol. 44, pp. 145–199). New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
- Kane, M. J., Hambrick, D. Z., Tuholski, S. W., Wilhelm, O., Payne, T. W., & Engle, R. W. (2004). The generality of working memory capacity: A latent-variable approach to verbal and visuospatial memory span and reasoning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 133, 189–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar