A randomised controlled trial investigating the benefits of adaptive working memory training for working memory capacity and attentional control in high worriers.
Hotton M., Derakshan N., Fox E.
The process of worry has been associated with reductions in working memory capacity and availability of resources necessary for efficient attentional control. This, in turn, can lead to escalating worry. Recent investigations into working memory training have shown improvements in attentional control and cognitive performance in high trait-anxious individuals and individuals with sub-clinical depression. The current randomised controlled trial investigated the effects of 15 days of adaptive n-back working memory training, or an active control task, on working memory capacity, attentional control and worry in a sample of high worriers. Pre-training, post-training and one-month follow-up measures of working memory capacity were assessed using a Change Detection task, while a Flanker task was used to assess attentional control. A breathing focus task was used as a behavioural measure of worry in addition to a number of self-report assessments of worry and anxiety. Overall there was no difference between the active training and the active control condition with both groups demonstrating similar improvements in working memory capacity and worry, post-training and at follow-up. However, training-related improvements on the n-back task were associated with gains in working memory capacity and reductions in worry symptoms in the active training condition. These results highlight the need for further research investigating the role of individual differences in working memory training.