Authors: Sahar M. Yousef, Anthony J.-W. Chen, Omid Rhezaii, Fred Loya, Deborah C. Binder and Michael A. Silver
Abstract: Attention and working memory are vital for almost all goaldirected behaviors, and efforts to enhance these functions are of great interest for improving cognitive performance in health and disease. However, there remain open questions regarding the potential for training to improve function beyond practiced tasks as well as which intervention methods are most likely to foster transfer of gains. We examined the contributions of attention regulation training to skill learning and transfer. Healthy undergraduate students completed attention regulation training that involved seven weekly 1.5-hour instructor-led classroom sessions and application of learned skills across multiple contexts, including custom-designed digital game play that emphasized attention and executive control as well as challenges in personal life. The effects of cognitive training were assessed with a group of tasks requiring attention, working memory, and/or distractor suppression. We found substantial improvements in sustained attention and complex working memory that were unique to those participants that combined didactic training with experiential application of skills.
Keywords: cognitive training attention working memory