Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (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

Investigations into n-back training and near transfer to short-term memory (STM) and working memory (WM) have realised inconsistent results. A significant transfer to STM was reported using dual n-back training (Jaeggi, Buschkuehl, Jonides, & Perrig, 2008). However, the majority of studies have found no significant transfer to WM as operationalised by complex span tasks using either single or dual n-back training. The current study examined the single n-back task and near transfer to STM and WM as operationalised by the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities (Mather & Woodcock-Johnson, 2001). Forty-seven participants were divided into experimental treatment (n = 26) and active control (n = 21) groups; and engaged in 20 daily, 20-minute training sessions over a 30-day period using either a single n-back task, or a combination of two general knowledge tasks respectively. STM and WM psychometric tests were administered before and after the 30-day training process. No significant difference was found between pre- and post-training STM or WM scores, indicating both constructs were unlikely near transfer mechanisms for single nback training. There was concern that the non-significant WM finding may have been confounded as there is evidence to suggest that the single n-back task and one of the active control group tasks both relied on recognition for resolution. The small effect size associated with single n-back transfer to STM implied that this outcome was independent of the active control group. Furthermore, the non-significant result for STM suggests that single and dual n-back tasks differ in their transfer properties.

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