Gains in language comprehension relating to working memory training in healthy older adults




A growing number of studies are focusing on cognitive training procedures to delay age-related decline. Given the crucial role of working memory (WM) in everyday life, some studies have recently analyzed gains deriving from WM training and their transfer and maintenance effects in older adults.


The present study investigates the efficacy of a verbal WM training program in 20 65–75 year old adults with no cognitive impairments, considering the specific training-related gains in a verbal WM task (criterion) and the transfer effects on measures of WM updating, reasoning, and on abilities related more to daily life, that is language comprehension. Maintenance of training benefits was also assessed after 6 months.


The older adults given training performed better than controls in the criterion task and retained this benefit 6 months later. Immediate transfer effects were seen in most of the abilities considered (reasoning and language comprehension performance) and were substantially maintained at the 6-month follow-up.


Our results suggest that WM training is a promising approach for preserving abilities relating to everyday activities, helping to prolong older adults' independence and well-being. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.