Working memory training in old age: an examination of transfer and maintenance effects

Erika Borella, Barbara Carretti, Giulia Zanoni, Michela Zavagnin, Rossana De Beni
Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology: the Official Journal of the National Academy of Neuropsychologists 2013, 28 (4): 331-47
The present study examined the efficacy of a verbal working memory (WM) training program in old-old individuals (over 75 years of age). Thirty-six adults aged 75-87 took part in the study: 18 were randomly assigned to receive training and the remainder served as active controls. Specific training gains in a verbal WM task (criterion task), and transfer effects on measures of visuospatial WM, short-term memory, inhibition, processing speed, and fluid intelligence were examined. The trained old-old adults performed better than the controls in the criterion task, and this benefit persisted after 8 months; they also showed an increase in the efficiency of inhibitory mechanisms at follow-up compared with pretest. The results of this study suggest that the present WM training program produces benefits maintained over time even in old-old adults. These findings confirm that there is still room for plasticity in the basic mechanisms of cognition in advance old age.

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