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The National Institute of Mental Health gives $2M grant to identify factors that make working memory training work (or not)

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Under­stand­ing Indi­vid­ual Dif­fer­ences: UC River­side psy­chol­o­gy pro­fes­sor receives $1.9 mil­lion grant to study mem­o­ry train­ing (press release):

Aaron Seitz, a psy­chol­o­gy pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, River­side and the direc­tor of the UCR Brain Game Cen­ter for men­tal fit­ness and well­be­ing, and Susanne Jaeg­gi, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at the school of edu­ca­tion at UC Irvine, have been award­ed a $1.9 mil­lion grant to study mem­o­ry train­ing…With the grant, Seitz will be able to help address cen­tral ques­tions in the con­tro­ver­sial field of “brain train­ing,” exer­cis­es that are meant to har­ness and direct the brain in ways that can enhance your over­all per­for­mance and improve the qual­i­ty of your life. Name­ly, it will look into how indi­vid­u­als may receive dif­fer­ent out­comes from the same train­ing method, and that the best approach may dif­fer among indi­vid­u­als.

To date, the stan­dard in the field is to engage a small group of peo­ple in a task and con­clude from that whether a tech­nique is effec­tive. To over­come this lim­i­ta­tion, Seitz and Jaeg­gi will run a diverse array of train­ing approach­es on more than 30,000 peo­ple to under­stand which train­ing approach­es will lead to what types of ben­e­fits on dif­fer­ent indi­vid­u­als. The idea is to move beyond exam­in­ing the aver­age effects of train­ing toward under­stand­ing indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences…

Accord­ing to Seitz, under­stand­ing the fac­tors and indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences that medi­ate suc­cess­ful learn­ing is crit­i­cal to under­stand­ing why some stud­ies find ben­e­fits to brain train­ing and oth­ers do not. This can lead to more help­ful inter­ven­tions for indi­vid­u­als with mem­o­ry impair­ments, such as those stem­ming from men­tal health con­di­tions, trau­mat­ic brain injury, or aging. It can also ben­e­fit those look­ing for a cog­ni­tive boost.

Seitz said the research can also help deter­mine approach­es that may not work, and help peo­ple avoid inef­fec­tive pro­ce­dures.

The grant “Under­stand­ing Medi­at­ing and Mod­er­at­ing Fac­tors that Deter­mine Trans­fer of Work­ing Mem­o­ry Train­ing,” comes from the Nation­al Insti­tute of Men­tal Health. Seitz and Jaeg­gi will receive $1,929,278 over a five-year span.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness, Technology

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