Does working memory training promote the use of strategies on untrained working memory tasks?

D.L. Dunning, J. Holmes

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Adaptive computerized training has been associated with significant enhancements in untrained working memory tasks, but the nature of the cognitive changes that underpin these improvements are not yet fully understood. Here, we investigate the possibility that training stimulates the use of memory-related strategies. In a randomized controlled trial, participants completed four tests of working memory before receiving adaptive working memory training, nonadaptive working memory training with low memory loads, or no training. Open-ended interviews about strategy use were conducted after the administration of untrained working memory tasks at two time points. Those in the adaptive and nonadaptive groups completed the assessments before (T1) and after (T2) 10 training sessions. The no-training group completed the same set of tasks at T1 and T2, without any training between assessment points. Adaptive training was associated with selective improvements in untrained tests of working memory, accompanied by a significant increase in the use of a grouping strategy for visuospatial short-term memory and verbal working memory tasks. These results indicate that training-related improvements in working memory may be mediated by implicit and spontaneous changes in the use of strategies to subsegment sequences of information into groups for recall when the tasks used at test overlap with those used during training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)854–862
Number of pages9
JournalMemory and Cognition
Early online date19 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014

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