Plasticity of executive functioning in young and older adults: immediate training gains, transfer, and long-term maintenance

Psychol Aging. 2008 Dec;23(4):720-30. doi: 10.1037/a0014296.


The authors investigated immediate training gains, transfer effects, and 18-month maintenance after 5 weeks of computer-based training in updating of information in working memory in young and older subjects. Trained young and older adults improved significantly more than controls on the criterion task (letter memory), and these gains were maintained 18 months later. Transfer effects were in general limited and restricted to the young participants, who showed transfer to an untrained task that required updating (3-back). The findings demonstrate substantial and durable plasticity of executive functioning across adulthood and old age, although there appear to be age-related constraints in the ability to generalize the acquired updating skill.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Association Learning
  • Attention
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Mental Recall
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Reaction Time
  • Retention, Psychology
  • Serial Learning
  • Verbal Learning
  • Young Adult