Training change detection leads to substantial task-specific improvement

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Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences; Center for Human-Centered Computing


Previous research has demonstrated that adaptive training of working memory can substantially increase performance on the trained task. Such training effects have been reported for performance on simple span tasks, complex span tasks, and n-back tasks. Another task that has become a popular vehicle for studying working memory is the change-detection paradigm. In a typical change-detection trial, one has to determine whether a set of stimuli is identical to a set that was presented just previously. Here, we developed an adaptive training regimen comprised of increasingly difficult change-detection trials to assess the degree to which individuals’ change-detection performance can be improved with practice. In contrast to previous work, our results demonstrate that participants are able to dramatically improve their performance in change detection over the course of 10 training sessions. We attribute this improvement to the current training method that adaptively adjusted the set size of the change-detection task to the proficiency of the trainee. Despite these considerable training effects, an exploratory investigation revealed that these improvements remained highly task specific and may not generalize to untrained tasks.

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Journal of Cognitive Enhancement