Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Can You Train your Brain to Improve Working Memory?

Alas, recent studies say no. First, what exactly is working memory?

Working memory is the system the mind uses to hold information during decisionmaking and analysis. As much as half of the variation in individual intelligence can be explained by differences in working-memory capacity, research shows. Working memory has come to be considered by researchers and educators as a key leverage point in boosting brainpower overall—and programs designed to strengthen it are already finding their way into some schools and homes.

Can you train your brain to improve recent memory? Training programs have become big business. But two extensive studies offer disappointing results:

But a systematic review of 23 studies on working-memory training programs, published online last month by the journal Developmental Psychology, found such training produced few long-term benefits to working-memory skills and no improvements to other cognitive skills like verbal ability, attention, word decoding, or arithmetic.

And a randomized, controlled study to be published online next week in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, found that improving on a key task used in working-memory training did not lead to improvements on any of a battery of 17 cognitive-ability measures, including problem-solving intelligence, multitasking, and perception speed.

Here’s the story from Education Week.



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