Date: Friday, February, 6th.
Place: Sala de Conferencias 1 (CIMCYC)
Speaker: Erika Borelli, Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, Italy
Title: Working memory training for a healthy aging
Abstract: Growing numbers of studies are focusing on assessing whether the age-related decline in basic mechanisms of cognition can be postponed. One such basic mechanism is working memory (WM) given its involvement in higher-order cognitive abilities also relating to everyday life, such as fluid intelligence, problem-solving, and reading comprehension. Because of its central role in cognition, training activities targeting WM have been assumed to produce wider effects on the cognitive system. Although results concerning the efficacy of WM training in aging are promising, their benefits in terms of transfer and maintenance effects are still source of debate, and seem to depend on different aspects.
The aim of this presentation is to illustrate and discuss a WM training procedure that we have developed, which appears to produce both near and far transfer effects, even in abilities involved in everyday tasks, such as reading comprehension, in different populations (young-old, old-old and cases of mild cognitive impairment [MCI]). The training gains identified are attributed to the nature of the training, which not only takes into account the capacity to use WM resources and attentional control (by adopting an adaptive procedure), but also considers the importance of presenting challenging and engaging training activities to sustain motivation and thus favor the training’s short- and long-term efficacy, in older adults at least. Crucial variables that can affect the efficacy of WM training in both healthy elderly people and individuals with MCI - such as training procedure, the age range of older participants, and the nature of the training task (verbal or visuospatial) - will be discussed in terms of any transfer effects.