Those who have been following us for some time know that we have dedicated a lot of space to articles on working memory: we talked about the relationship between working memory and language disorders, how an enhancement of working memory can contribute benefits in the calculation it's a improvement in an aphasia picture, and we talked about working memory training in order to improve cognitive functions in healthy elderly.

Today we try to add a new piece thanks to a 2020 research conducted by Payne and Stine-Morrow[1]. The authors of this study set themselves two interesting goals:

  • Verify the modifiability of working memory together with its repercussions on language
  • Investigate whether working memory was causally related to the ability to understand language

To do this, they selected a group of 21 healthy elderly people (who typically have a decline in working memory) and subjected them to computerized training focused on verbal working memory for 3 weeks, for a total of 15 sessions of half an hour each. .
These people were compared to another group of seniors who were doing decision speed training for a similar time.

What emerged from the study?

In line with the researchers' expectations, participants in working memory training improved in most of their working memory tests (but not those who underwent decision speed training); moreover, working memory training led to an improvement in understanding even the most complex sentences and this led the researchers to two conclusions:

  • Working memory training actually seems effective and useful, making improvements that are not limited to tasks similar to those trained
  • Working memory actually seems to be a key element for sound listening comprehension, since improving the ability to hold and manipulate information in the mind leads to an increase in understanding the more complicated messages.

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