Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Science

Faculty

Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Ken Robinson

Second Advisor

Dr Ricks Allan

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to report on a study that examined the effect of working memory training (using the n-back task) on fluid intelligence (Gf). Recent research by Jaeggi and colleagues (2008; 2010) found that training in a visualspatial n-back task resulted in gains on two different matrix reasoning tests of fluid intelligence (compared to participants who did no task). The present study replicated and extended these results by testing the fluid intelligence construct using a different type of fluid intelligence test, and employing an ‘active’ rather than ‘no-contact’ control group to account for motivational effects on intelligence test performance. Fifty eight participants were involved and their fluid intelligence was assessed pre-training using the Figure Weights subtest from the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV). Participants were randomly assigned to two groups (experimental or active control), and both groups did a training task on their home computer for 20 days, for 20 minutes a day. The experimental group trained using a single n-back task whilst the control group completed general knowledge and vocabulary questions. After training, participants were retested using the Figure Weights subtest. Participants’ Figure Weights scores were analysed using an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA). The results of this analysis revealed no significant difference between the training groups in terms of performance on the Figure Weights subtest, suggesting that the n-back task was not effective in increasing fluid reasoning ability. These findings were in contrast to those of Jaeggi et al. (2008) and Jaeggi et al. (2010) and suggested that differences between the working memory group and control group found in these studies were likely the result of placebo/motivational effects rather than the properties of the n-back task itself.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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