The Effectiveness of Working Memory Training on Classroom-Related Attention

Publication Date



The role of working memory (WM) in disorders of attention and learning is well established in the literature, some suggesting that low working memory may be a core deficit in AD/HD. As such, computerized cognitive interventions to improve WM have been developed and shown promise by demonstrating training effects such as improved attention and fluid reasoning. However, debate continues as to whether adaptive training leads to improvement on non-trained tasks. Little research has demonstrated improvements that generalize to "real life" WM or attention. The current study examined the effectiveness of WM training on real-world attention performance. Participants included 15 children, ages 6-15, identified as having learning and attention problems. Both before and after completing 5 weeks of WM training, each child was assessed via the Virtual Classroom Continuous Performance Task, a validated measure of sustained attention set within a virtual environment. Results suggested that WM training led to substantial improvements in sustained attention in a real life scenario (classroom learning), as evidenced by decreases in omission errors, reaction time, and hit variability. Observing such improvements on ecologically relevant measures of attention adds to the discussion that computerized WM training may be a viable option to treat attention disorders.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology (PhD)

First Advisor

Marion, Sarah DeBoard

Document Type





Short-term memory, Attention-deficit-disordered children, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder




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