Do the Effects of Working Memory Training Depend on Baseline Ability Level?

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Abstract

There is a debate about the ability to improve cognitive abilities such as fluid intelligence through training on tasks of working memory capacity. The question addressed in the research presented here is who benefits the most from training: people with low cognitive ability or people with high cognitive ability? Subjects with high and low working memory capacity completed a 23-session study that included 3 assessment sessions, and 20 sessions of training on 1 of 3 training regiments: complex span training, running span training, or an active-control task. Consistent with other research, the authors found that training on 1 executive function did not transfer to ability on a different cognitive ability. High working memory subjects showed the largest gains on the training tasks themselves relative to the low working memory subjects—a finding that suggests high spans benefit more than low spans from training with executive function tasks.

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