Adaptive task difficulty influences neural plasticity and transfer of training

Flegal, K. , Ragland, J. D. and Ranganath, C. (2019) Adaptive task difficulty influences neural plasticity and transfer of training. NeuroImage, 188, pp. 111-121. (doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.12.003) (PMID:30521951)

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The efficacy of cognitive training is controversial, and research progress in the field requires an understanding of factors that promote transfer of training gains and their relationship to changes in brain activity. One such factor may be adaptive task difficulty, as adaptivity is predicted to facilitate more efficient processing by creating a prolonged mismatch between the supply of, and the demand upon, neural resources. To test this hypothesis, we measured behavioral and neural plasticity in fMRI sessions before and after 10 sessions of working memory updating (WMU) training, in which the difficulty of practiced tasks either adaptively increased in response to performance or was fixed. Adaptive training resulted in transfer to an untrained episodic memory task and activation decreases in striatum and hippocampus on a trained WMU task, and the amount of training task improvement was associated with near transfer to other WMU tasks and with hippocampal activation changes on both near and far transfer tasks. These findings suggest that cognitive training programs should incorporate adaptive task difficulty to broaden transfer of training gains and maximize efficiency of task-related brain activity.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by NIH grants R01MH068721, R01MH105411, and F32MH096469.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Flegal, Dr Kristin
Authors: Flegal, K., Ragland, J. D., and Ranganath, C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:NeuroImage
ISSN (Online):1095-9572
Published Online:03 December 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc.
First Published:First published in NeuroImage 188: 111-121
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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