Excellent overview article on the different types of working memory training programs and why some (core training programs) produce positive effects across different human performance domains and why the effects generalize. The core training programs appear to improve the domain-general mechanisms involving in working memory, such as controlled executive attention and disinhibition (ability to focus and screen out distractors). The focus on the frontal-parietal network (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, posterior parietal cortex, the striatum, and the basal ganglia) has been a constant thread thru recent working memory theoretical and applied training research.
Morrison, A. B., & Chein, J. M. (2011). Does working memory training work? The promise and challenges of enhancing cognition by training working memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18(1), 46-60
A growing body of literature shows that one’s working memory (WM) capacity can be expanded through targeted training. Given the established relationship between WM and higher cognition, these successful training studies have led to speculation that WM training may yield broad cognitive benefits. This review considers the current state of the emerging WM training literature, and details both its successes and limitations. We identify two distinct approaches to WM training, strategy training and core training, and highlight both the theoretical and practical motivations that guide each approach. Training-related increases in WM capacity have been successfully demonstrated across a wide range of subject populations, but different training techniques seem to produce differential impacts upon the broader landscape of cognitive abilities. In particular, core WM training studies seem to produce more far-reaching transfer effects, likely because they target domain-general mechanisms of WM. The results of individual studies encourage optimism regarding the value of WM training as a tool for general cognitive enhancement. However, we discuss several limitations that should be addressed before the field endorses the value of this approach.
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