Expanding the mind's workspace: training and transfer effects with a complex working memory span task

Psychon Bull Rev. 2010 Apr;17(2):193-9. doi: 10.3758/PBR.17.2.193.


In the present study, a novel working memory (WM) training paradigm was used to test the malleability of WM capacity and to determine the extent to which the benefits of this training could be transferred to other cognitive skills. Training involved verbal and spatial versions of a complex WM span task designed to emphasize simultaneous storage and processing requirements. Participants who completed 4 weeks of WM training demonstrated significant improvements on measures of temporary memory. These WM training benefits generalized to performance on the Stroop task and, in a novel finding, promoted significant increases in reading comprehension. The results are discussed in relation to the hypothesis that WM training affects domain-general attention control mechanisms and can thereby elicit far-reaching cognitive benefits. Implications include the use of WM training as a general tool for enhancing important cognitive skills.

MeSH terms

  • Cognition*
  • Comprehension
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reading
  • Spatial Behavior
  • Stroop Test
  • Transfer, Psychology*
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Young Adult