Working memory, the capacity to store information for brief periods, has been suggested to play a critical role in learning such as reading and mathematics. It has been claimed that this capacity is enhanced by intensive training. New findings indicate that the benefits of training do not extend to children’s long-term academic achievements.
A randomised clinical trial of over 450 6-year old children in Melbourne investigated whether there are enduring academic benefits to WM training. No improvements in reading, spelling or mathematics were detected one and two years after training, although there were short-term gains in other WM tests similar to training activities.
Health economic analyses were conducted by the international team, which was headed by Gehan Roberts from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and included CBSU Director Susan Gathercole. These provided no justification for the use of WM training as a population-wide intervention for children with low WM.
The paper can be accessed here
Roberts G, Quach J, Spencer-Smith M, Anderson PJ, Gathercole SE, Gold L, Sia K-L, Mensah F, Rickards F, Ainley J, Wake M. (2016). Academic outcomes 2 years after working memory training for children with low working memory: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Pediatrics. doi:10.001/jamapediatrics.2015.4568ONLINE