Training and Plasticity of Working Memory

Institution: Karolinska Institute

Title: Training and Plasticity of Working Memory

Researcher(s): Torkel Klingberg, M.D. Ph.D.

Published: Trends in Cognitive Sciences, July 2010


In this review, Dr. Torkel Klingberg, Cognitive neuroscientist from the Karolinska Institute, provides an overview of the understanding of the role of working memory, its demonstrated plasticity, and the rationale and feasibility of improving it through training.

Dr. Klingberg summarizes the body of research that supports the importance plasticity of working memory and the efficacy of Cogmed training on various populations with working memory deficits.


Working memory capacity predicts performance in a wide range of cognitive tasks. Although WM capacity has been viewed as a constant trait, recent studies suggest that it can be improved by adaptive and extended training. This training is associated with changes in brain activity in frontal and parietal cortex and basal ganglia, as well as changes in dopamine receptor density. Transfer of the training effects to non-trained WM tasks is consistent with the notion of training-induced plasticity in a common neural network for WM. The observed training effects suggest that WM training could be used as a remediating intervention for individuals for whom low WM capacity is a limiting factor for academic performance or in everyday life.

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