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

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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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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