15. Working Memory Training and tDCS: Transfer Effects

Kayla Clark University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Danielle Clark University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Colleen Frank University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Tiffany Jantz-DesOrmeaux University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Faculty Sponsor(s): Patricia Reuter-Lorenz University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Working memory (WM) is a crucial facet of cognition important in many higher order cognitive processes, making it a primary target for interventions. One such intervention is transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), which when applied over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) concurrently with WM training has been found to improve WM performance more than training alone. However, one may wonder whether if skills learned during training transfer to other, untrained tasks—known as transfer effects. This study examined the role of concurrent tDCS and WM training on transfer effects. We hypothesized that participants who received active, as compared to sham, tDCS would demonstrate stronger transfer effects and these improvements would be larger for a task that was akin to the training task, known as near transfer, as opposed to a more divergent task, known as far transfer. Participants (n=13) were randomly assigned to receive either active or sham tDCS over the dlPFC while training on a verbal WM task for seven consecutive weekdays. To measure transfer effects, participants completed the N-back (near transfer: verbal WM) and Corsi block tapping (far transfer: visuospatial WM) tasks before and after training. Contrary to our hypothesis, we found no evidence for an effect of tDCS on either type of transfer. However, there was a marginal effect of session (p=.057) for the near transfer task, such that performance had improved post-training, but this improvement was not seen on the far transfer task. These results may be used to inform the creation of future WM training paradigms.
Poster Presentation

When & Where

Irwin Library Lower Level