Perspectives of cognitive training in the learning science

Cognitive studies show that humans can increase their memory performance after training on working memory (WM).  A number of studies have found that there will be changes in brain activity that are induced by working memory training. Although the brain research findings provide evidence for remarkable trainability of the WM, only very general conclusions can be derived for the design of a complex educational learning contexts. Few studies have already addressed some of the conditions in the use of training on WM, The interest of a cognitive-oriented research of the learning science is motivated by the importance of the WM in the educational context and the findings of neuro-scientific research:

  • Evidence from training studies in cognitive neuroscience show that basic cognitive functions are a tuneable size (Jaeggi et al., 2008, Klingberg 2005)
  • Effects on improving cognitive functions have been reported in some studies of old-old adults (Bueschkuehl & Jaeggi (2008)), preschool children (Diamond (2007)), children with ADHD (Klingberg (2005)) and video-game players outperformed non- players in tests of visual attention (Green & Bavelier (2006))
  • In studies of WM, a wide variety of tools are used to measure WM including simple memory span or dual-tasks
    A training is a structured and time-limited intervention. It builds skills and abilities or improves them (Fries & Souvignier, 2009)
  • Ideally, effective training should transfer to tasks and situations beyond the training program
  • Unclear, however, is the usefulness and applicability of knowledge of training on cognitive basic functions in and for more complex learning situations outside the lab.

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REFERENCES
Chein, J., & Morrison, A. (2010). Expanding the mind’s workspace: Training and transfer effects with a complex working memory span task. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17(2), 193-199. doi: 10.3758/PBR.17.2.193
Diamond A, Barnett WS, Thomas J, Munro S (2007). Preschool Program Improves Cognitive Control. Science, 318: 1387-1388.
Fries, S. & Souvignier, E. (2009). Training. In E. Wild & J. Moeller (Hrsg.), Paedagogische Psychologie. Heidelberg: Springer.
Holmes, J., Gathercole, S.E., & Dunning, D.L. (2009). Adaptive training leads to sustained enhancement of poor working memory in children. Developmental Science, 12, F9–F15.
Jaeggi, S.M. et al. (2008) Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 105, 6829–6833
Klingberg, T., Fernell, E., Olesen, P. J., Johnson, M., Gustafsson, P., Dahlstrom, K., et al. (2005). Computerized training of working memory in children with ADHD: A randomized, controlled trial. Journal of American Academic Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 44, 177–186.
Owen, A., Hampshire, A., Grahn, J. Stenton, R. Dajani, S. Burns, A., Howard, R., & Ballard, C. (2010). Putting brain training to the test. Nature advance online publication, doi:10.1038/nature09042 (20 April 2010), pp. 1-4.
Thorell L B, Lindqvist S, Bergman S, Bohlin G, Klingberg T (2009) Training and transfer effects of executive functions in preschool children. Developmental Science, 12(1): 106-113.