Working memory training in children: Effectiveness depends on temperament

Studer-Luethi, Barbara; Bauer, Catherine; Perrig, Walter (2016). Working memory training in children: Effectiveness depends on temperament. Memory and Cognition, 44(2), pp. 171-186. Springer 10.3758/s13421-015-0548-9

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Studies revealing transfer effects of working memory (WM) training on non-trained cognitive performance of children hold promising implications for scholastic learning. However, the results of existing training studies are not consistent and provoke debates about the potential and limitations of cognitive enhancement. To examine the influence of individual differences on training outcomes is a promising approach for finding causes for such inconsistencies. In this study, we implemented WM training in an elementary school setting. The aim was to investigate near and far transfer effects on cognitive abilities and academic achievement and to examine the moderating effects of a dispositional and a regulative temperament factor, neuroticism and effortful control. Ninetynine second-graders were randomly assigned to 20 sessions of computer-based adaptiveWMtraining, computer-based reading training, or a no-contact control group. For the WM training group, our analyses reveal near transfer on a visual WM task, far transfer on a vocabulary task as a proxy for crystallized intelligence, and increased academic achievement in reading and math by trend. Considering individual differences in temperament, we found that effortful control predicts larger training mean and gain scores and that there is a moderation effect of both temperament factors on post-training improvement: WM training condition predicted higher post-training gains compared to both control conditions only in children with high effortful control or low neuroticism. Our results suggest that a short but intensive WM training program can enhance cognitive abilities in children, but that sufficient selfregulative abilities and emotional stability are necessary for WM training to be effective.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Psychological and Behavioral Health

UniBE Contributor:

Studer, Barbara and Perrig, Walter


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Barbara Studer

Date Deposited:

10 Nov 2015 14:37

Last Modified:

11 Feb 2016 01:30

Publisher DOI:





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