Monday, June 09, 2008

Working memory training improves fluid intelligence: New research

Training working memory can increase fluid intelligence (Gf). Wow.

I've had a number of people forward the following abstract to me. After reading the article I now see why. This article, in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), reports that a working memory training intervention produced positive transfer effects in fluid intelligence (Gf). This is a very important finding. Cognitive ability training research suffers from a paucity of studies that demonstrate positive transfer to other tasks/domains that differ from the training medium. This study also adds additional strong evidence to the link between working memory and Gf.

These findings are particularly important regarding the hypothesis that brain clock intervention training programs (e.g., Interactive Metronome) may be producing positive outcomes via an improvement in the domain-general cognitive mechanism's of working memory and executive functions. I've previously written about this hypothesis at this blog (click here).

Cool stuff. A must read. Much has been written about the link between working memory and Gf. Here are some prior related posts touching on the topics of working memory and Gf.

Jaeggi, S., Buschkuehl, M., Jonides, J. & Perrig, W. (2008). Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory. Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences, 105 (19), 6829-6833. (click to read)

  • Fluid intelligence (Gf) refers to the ability to reason and to solve new problems independently of previously acquired knowledge. Gf is critical for a wide variety of cognitive tasks, and it is considered one of the most important factors in learning. Moreover, Gf is closely related to professional and educational success, especially in complex and demanding environments. Although performance on tests of Gf can be improved through direct practice on the tests themselves, there is no evidence that training on any other regimen yields increased Gf in adults. Furthermore, there is a long history of research into cognitive training showing that, although performance on trained tasks can increase dramatically, transfer of this learning to other tasks remains poor. Here, we present evidence for transfer from training on a demanding working memory task to measures of Gf. This transfer results even though the trained task is entirely different from the intelligence test itself. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the extent of gain in intelligence critically depends on the amount of training: the more training, the more improvement in Gf. That is, the training effect is dosage-dependent. Thus, in contrast to many previous studies, we conclude that it is possible to improve Gf without practicing the testing tasks themselves, opening a wide range of applications.

1 comment:

martin walker mind evolve said...

Cool stuff indeed. The concept that the mind is plastic in ways that we have hitherto dismissed as impossible strikes me as a new frontier for human capabilities. Let's just hope we don't end up with the equivalent of steroids for the brain. Good old honest exercise seems quite acceptable though.

I was so impressed that I started a company to produce a commercial version of the intelligence training program used in this research.