The Effect of Working Memory Training on Executive Functioning

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Children with deficits in working memory often lack goal directed skills associated with executive functioning. We investigated executive functioning in conjunction with working memory training to see if aspects of executive functioning might improve. We tested 21 children either receiving academic services because of attention difficulties or referred with concerns about learning. Their average age at baseline was 10.1 years, and Verbal Comprehension Indices on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Fourth Edition ranged from 94 to 154. They each completed 25 Cogmed™ computer sessions of adaptive interactive working memory training. Parents and teachers completed the Behavioral Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning, and our neuropsychological batteries included A Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment - Second Edition (NEPSY-II) Auditory Attention/Response Set and Inhibition subtests. Using repeated measures analysis, global parent ratings of executive functioning improved after Cogmed™ training, F(1, 18) = 11.81, p < .01. Interestingly, Metacognition rather than Behavior Regulation drove the improvement in scores. Teachers’ ratings indicated improvement in 2 of the Metacognition subtests: Initiate and Working Memory. Further, with NEPSY-II Inhibition-Naming controlled, NEPSY-II Inhibition-Inhibition and Inhibition-Switching scores trended toward a significant improvement following the Cogmed™ intervention. Although parents’ ratings were perhaps influenced by their awareness of the intervention, improvement in NEPSY-II subtests suggests they may have noticed subtle changes better than teachers. These results indicate Cogmed™ may develop aspects of executive functioning essential in the classroom.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

First Advisor

Marion, Sarah DeBoard

Document Type





Short-term memory, Memory in children, Cognition in children, Executive functions, Attention




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