Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Exploration of an Adaptive Training Regimen That Can Target the Secondary Memory Component of Working Memory Capacity

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Exploration of an Adaptive Training Regimen That Can Target the Secondary Memory Component of Working Memory Capacity

Article excerpt

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013

Abstract The dual-component model contends that working memory (WM) capacity consists of two components. The first is a flexible attention component that involves the active maintenance of a limited amount of information in primary memory (PM), and the second is a controlled retrieval component that involves a cue-dependent search of secondary memory (SM) for information that has been lost from PM. Recent evidence has suggested that the adaptive WM training regimen known as "Cogmed-RM" is not optimally designed, because it only targets PM abilities, not SM abilities. The present study was conducted to investigate whether Cogmed-RM could be modified to target SM abilities by decreasing the recall accuracy threshold that defines individual ability during training. The main findings suggested that the SM component of WM capacity could be targeted by lowering the recall accuracy threshold. The present findings are important because they suggest that adaptive training regimens can be designed that selectively target specific components of WM capacity, and they raise the possibility that the potency of existing training regimens can be increased.

Keywords Working memory capacity · Working memory training · Dual-component model of working memory

Published online: 31 January 2013

Recent advances in neuroplasticity have raised the possibility that cognitive health may be optimized and preserved by engaging in training exercises that are specifically designed to target basic cognitive mechanisms. The societal implications of improved cognitive fitness are vast, and a recent market analysis suggested a growing public interest in these interventions, as expenditures increased from approximately $100 million in 2005 to approximately $225 million in 2007, with the largest increases occurring within the personal and healthcare segments of the market (Fernandez & Goldberg, 2008). However, despite the potential health benefits associated with cognitive-fitness regimens, empirical studies aimed at establishing the effectiveness of these interventions have generally lagged behind this growing public interest.

Critical to establishing the long-term utility of cognitive-fitness regimens is whether interventions can be designed that are flexible enough to maintain training effects outside the specific training environment-producing so-called far-transfer effects. Equally important is understanding the causal etiology of these far-transfer effects so that the mechanisms underlying cognitive enhancement can be ascertained; this goal has fostered the development of training regimens that are designed to train specific cognitive processes, rather than a complex mixture of different processes (Lustig & Flegal, 2008).

Some evidence now suggests that adaptive training of working memory (WM) can enhance higher-order cognitive abilities (see Buschkuehl & Jaeggi, 2010; Diamond & Lee, 2011; Klingberg, 2010; Melby-Lervâg & Hulme, 2012; Morrison & Chein, 2011; Shipstead, Hicks, & Engle, 2012; and Shipstead, Redick, & Engle, 2010, 2012, for recent reviews). For instance, recent empirical studies have been interpreted to suggest that training-induced increases in WM capacity can be accompanied by improvements in fluid intelligence (Jaeggi, Buschkuehl, Jonides, & Perrig, 2008; Jaeggi, Buschkuehl, Jonides, & Shah, 2011; Jausovec & Jausovec, 2012; Klingberg, Fernell, Olesen, Johnson, Gustafsson, Dahlström and Westerberg 2005), reading comprehension (Chein & Morrison, 2010; Dahlin, 2010), math competence (Holmes, Gathercole, & Dunning, 2009), and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms (Beck, Hanson, Puffenberger, Benninger, & Benninger, 2010; Gibson, Gondoli, Johnson, Steeger, & Morrissey, 2011 ; Holmes, Gathercole, Place, Dunning, Hilton, & Elliot 2010; Klingberg et al., 2005).

However, others have questioned the causal etiology of these effects by questioning whether the benefits of adaptive WM training are actually due to changes in WM capacity (Shipstead et al. …

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