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Study: Working memory training can improve fluid intelligence

Very inter­est­ing new study on com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive train­ing (or brain train­ing), well sum­ma­rized in LA Times arti­cle Mem­ory train­ing improves intel­li­gence in some chil­dren, report says. Quote:

The train­ing pro­gram used by Jaeggi and co-workers focused on ramp­ing up work­ing mem­ory: the abil­ity to hold in mind a hand­ful of infor­ma­tion bits briefly, and to update them as needed. Cog­ni­tive sci­en­tists con­sider work­ing mem­ory a key com­po­nent of intel­li­gence. But they have long debated whether strength­en­ing short-term mem­ory capac­ity will boost a person’s over­all intel­lec­tual func­tion, and will do so even after the brain-training ses­sions are over.

It can, and it does, accord­ing to this new research, pub­lished in the Pro­ceed­ings of the National Acad­emy of Sciences.

The full study, Short-term and long-term ben­e­fits of cog­ni­tive train­ing, is avail­able here, and includes this cru­cial and often over­looked analysis:

We con­clude that cog­ni­tive train­ing can be effec­tive and long-lasting, but that there are lim­it­ing fac­tors that must be con­sid­ered to eval­u­ate the effects of this train­ing, one of which is indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences in train­ing per­for­mance. We pro­pose that future research should not inves­ti­gate whether cog­ni­tive train­ing works, but rather should deter­mine what train­ing reg­i­mens and what train­ing con­di­tions result in the best trans­fer effects, inves­ti­gate the under­ly­ing neural and cog­ni­tive mech­a­nisms, and finally, inves­ti­gate for whom cog­ni­tive train­ing is most useful.

To Learn More:

-> About the spe­cific method­ol­ogy deployed in study: read this inter­view with Michi­gan researcher Mar­tin Buschkuehl

-> An exam­ple of real-life activ­ity where work­ing mem­ory mat­ters: read this study on work­ing mem­ory and math performance

-> Thought­ful brief essay by Torkel Kling­berg based on his excel­lent book The Over­flow­ing Brain: Infor­ma­tion Over­load and the Lim­its of Work­ing Memory

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