Both Jaeggi's team, as well as Torkel Klingberg of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, who is also presenting at the symposium today in San Francisco, have had success with such training for children with ADHD, decreasing the symptoms of inattention. "Here, the reason working-memory training may transfer to tests of fluid intelligence, as well as to a reduction in ADHD-associated hyperactivity symptoms, may be because both of those complex behaviors use some of the same brain circuits also used in performing the working-memory training tasks," Kundu says.
"Individual differences in working memory performance have been related to individual differences in numerous real world skills such as reading comprehension, performance on standardized tests, and much more," she adds. "I would not expect the same sorts of transfer effects that have been seen with working-memory training to happen if an individual practiced a task that used a minimally overlapping network, such as, for example, shooting three-pointers which presumably uses different brain areas like primary and secondary motor cortex and the cerebellum."
Jaeggi says that it is important to understand that cognitive abilities are not as unchangeable as some might think. "Even though there is certainly a hereditary component to mental abilities, that does not mean that there are not also components that are malleable and respond to experience and practice," she says. "Whereas we try to strengthen participants' working memory skills in our research, there are other routes that are possible as well, such as for example physical or musical training, meditation, nutrition, or even sleep."
Despite all the promising research, Jaeggi says, researchers still need to understand many aspects of this work, such as "individual differences that influence training and transfer effects, the question of how long the effects last, and whether and how the effects translate into more real-wo
|Contact: Lisa M.P. Munoz|
Cognitive Neuroscience Society