Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

Neural Effects of Short-Term Training on Working Memory

Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

Neural Effects of Short-Term Training on Working Memory

Article excerpt

Abstract Working memory training has been the focus of intense research interest. Despite accumulating behavioral work, knowledge about the neural mechanisms underlying training effects is scarce. Here, we show that 7 days of training on an n-back task led to substantial performance improvements in the trained task; furthermore, the experimental group showed cross-modal transfer, as compared with an active control group. In addition, there were two neural effects that emerged as a function of training: first, increased perfusion during task performance in selected regions, reflecting a neural response to cope with high task demand; second, increased blood flow at rest in regions where training effects were apparent. We also found that perfusion at rest was correlated with task proficiency, probably reflecting an improved neural readiness to perform. Our findings are discussed within the context of the available neuroimaging literature on n-back training.

Keywords ASL · n-back · Cognitive training · Longitudinal fMRI · Transfer

What happens in the brain when training improves performance on a trained task? We aimed to answer this question by means of an n-back intervention that trains working memory (WM), our ability to store and manipulate a limited amount of information for a short period of time (Jonides et al., 2008). WM is the underlying mechanism that drives performance in many complex cognitive tasks, such as fluid intelligence, reading comprehension, and mathematics (e.g., Daneman & Carpenter, 1980;Pickering,2006).1 Therefore, it is not surprising that training on WM has been repeatedly shown to improve not only WM skills, but also other complex cognitive skills that rely on WM processes (e.g. Chein & Morrison, 2010; Jaeggi, Buschkuehl, Jonides, & Perrig, 2008;Jaeggi, Buschkuehl, Jonides, & Shah, 2011; Jaeggi, Buschkuehl, Shah, & Jonides, 2013; Jaeggi, Studer-Luethi et al., 2010; Jausovec & Jausovec, 2012; Rudebeck, Bor, Ormond, O'Reilly, & Lee, 2012; Stephenson & Halpern, 2013). Despite the increasing popularity of WM interventions, there are still very few studies investigating the neural effects of WM training. Most of these have examined functional activation changes (e.g., Dahlin, Neely, Larsson, Bäckman, & Nyberg, 2008;Hempeletal.,2004; Jolles, Grol, Van Buchem, Rombouts, & Crone, 2010; Olesen, Westerberg, & Klingberg, 2004; Schneiders, Opitz, Krick, & Mecklinger, 2011; Westerberg et al., 2007). In addition, there are also studies investigating the effect of training on cerebral perfusion at rest and on functional connectivity (Kundu, Sutterer, Emrich, & Postle, 2013; Mozolic, Hayasaka, & Laurienti, 2010; Takeuchi et al., 2012), on brain structure (Takeuchi et al., 2010, 2011), and on dopaminergic functions (e.g., Bäckman et al., 2011; McNab et al., 2009). Due to the small body of literature and the substantial methodological differences among these studies, it is currently difficult to draw firm conclusions about the underlying neural mechanisms of WM training, and therefore, it is difficult to make predictions about training-related activation changes (Buschkuehl, Jaeggi, & Jonides, 2012). In the present study, we focus on the neural effects of an n-back intervention that is a relatively common vehicle used in behavioral WM training research and whose effects on untrained tasks have been documented by several independent laboratories and with different populations (Colom et al., 2013; Jaeggi, Buschkuehl, Jonides, & Perrig, 2008; Jaeggi, Buschkuehl, Jonides, & Shah, 2011; Jaeggi et al., 2013; Jaeggi, Studer-Luethi, et al., 2010;Jausovec & Jaus ovec, 2012; Owens, Koster, & Derakshan, 2013; Rudebeck et al., 2012; Schweizer, Grahn, Hampshire, Mobbs, & Dalgleish, 2013; Schweizer, Hampshire, & Dalgleish, 2011; Stephenson & Halpern, 2013). To our knowledge, there are only four studies to date that have investigated the neural correlates of n-back training by means of fMRI (Hempel et al. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.