Working Memory and Cognitive Flexibility Training Reveals No Relationship to Fluid Intelligence in College Students

University of North Carolina Asheville, Asheville, North Carolina 28804, USA

Recently, there has been an increased interest in cognitive training due to claims of widespread and transferable benefits of online brain training games. A growing body of literature supports the idea that working memory and cognitive flexibility are linked with fluid intelligence and academic success. The literature is less consistent on whether lasting improvements in cognition can be made through training these abilities. This study compared the effectiveness of cognitively challenging tasks, including Lumosity’s program, in building transferable abilities that contribute to improvements in fluid intelligence. To this end, cognitive performance by no- contact control participants was compared with that of two groups participating in either Flexibility-Focused Lumosity or Memory-Focused Lumosity trainings, and active control groups training in either Sudoku puzzles (alternate task control) or online trivia games (crystallized intelligence control). Measures of cognitive flexibility, memory and fluid intelligence were compared and showed significant improvements pre- and post-test, but not significantly greater improvement for any particular training group. These data suggest that the tested brain training programs are no more effective than any other cognitively engaging task in building transferable cognitive abilities. 

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