Experimental investigation of training schedule on home-based working memory training in healthy older adults

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INTRODUCTION: The efficacy of working memory training (WMT) for cognitive enhancement in healthy older adults has been extensively investigated. Typically, WMT results in improved performance on the training task, but limited or no transfer of improvement to other cognitive tasks. Accordingly, there is a need to identify optimal intervention parameters to maximize training and transfer task effects of WMT. The current study aimed to investigate the effect of training schedule on training and transfer task performance of WMT in healthy older adults. A secondary aim was to examine the feasibility of participants performing the intervention online at home, unsupervised, and using their personal devices.

METHODS: Participants ( N = 71; mean age: 66 years) completed sixteen WMT or active-control sessions over eight (distributed) or four (intensive) weeks. Adaptive verbal and spatial n-back tasks were used as the WMT tasks. We tested near transfer effects to a digit-span task and far transfer effects to an abstract relational reasoning task.

RESULTS: Participants successfully performed the cognitively demanding intervention using their own devices, online at home, and with minimal contact with the researcher. We observed a significant improvement in WMT task performance in the WMT group relative to active-controls, but no evidence of near or far transfer. Similar training effects were observed irrespective of the intensity of the training schedule.

DISCUSSION: Our results suggest that comparable benefits could be observed when using less intensive schedules that may be more easily accommodated into everyday life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1165275
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2023


  • aging
  • cognitive enhancement
  • cognitive training
  • working memory
  • working memory training


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