Poster A44, Saturday, March 25, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Sustained Attention and Working Memory Are Improved by Attention Regulation Training with Guided Experiential Skill Application
Sahar M. Yousef1, Anthony J.-W. Chen1,2,3, Omid Rhezaii1, Fred Loya2,3, Deborah Binder2,3, Michael A. Silver1; 1University of California, Berkeley, 2Veterans Administration Northern California Health Care System, 3University of California, San Francisco
While prior studies have documented improvements in attention and working memory following various forms of training, evidence for transfer of gains to non-trained tasks has been limited. Moreover, when transfer of learning has been observed, it has often been unclear which components of training contributed to transfer. To address this issue, we examined the contributions of different components of attention regulation training to skill learning and transfer in a sample of healthy undergraduate students. Specifically, we compared the effects of guided experiential training of attention regulation, which combined didactic instruction with intensive skill practice and coaching on skill application in game scenarios and personal life, with three control conditions containing isolated components of this training: (1) a game-only condition, matched for gameplay experiences but lacking didactics and guided skill application; (2) a conceptual-learning condition, involving didactics but without game play, skill practice, or guided skill application; and (3) test-retest condition, matched on academic course load. Evidence of transfer effects were observed as improvements on untrained tasks of sustained attention, complex working memory, and verbal working memory (all ps<.001) following guided experiential training (n=83) but not game-only (n=25) or test-retest conditions (n=25). Participants in the conceptual-learning group (n=36) also improved on tasks of sustained attention (p=.02) and verbal working memory (p=.003), albeit to a lesser degree than those receiving guided experiential training. These results indicate that attention regulation training can generalize and improve cognitive performance on untrained tasks, especially when it is integrated with guided and personalized skill application and practice.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Other