Benefits of a working memory training program for inattention in daily life: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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This Background Many common disorders across the lifespan feature impaired working memory (WM). Reported benefits of aWM training program include improving inattention in daily life, but this has not been evaluated in a meta-analysis. This study aimed to evaluate whether one WM training method has benefits for inattention in daily life by conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis. Methods We searched Medline and PsycINFO, relevant journals and contacted authors for studies with an intervention and control group reporting post-training estimates of inattention in daily life. To reduce the influence of differentWM training methods on the findings, the review was restricted to trials evaluating the Cogmed method. A meta-analysis calculated the pooled standardised difference in means (SMD) between intervention and control groups. Results A total of 622 studies were identified and 12 studies with 13 group comparisons met inclusion criteria. The meta-analysis showed a significant training effect on inattention in daily life, SMD=-0.47, 95% CI -0.65, -0.29, p<.00001. Subgroup analyses showed this significant effect was observed in groups of children and adults as well as users with and without ADHD, and in studies using control groups that were active and non-adaptive, wait-list and passive as well as studies using specific or general measures. Seven of the studies reported follow-up assessment and a meta-analysis showed persisting training benefits for inattention in daily life, SMD=-0.33, 95% CI -0.57 -0.09, p = .006. Additional meta-analyses confirmed improvements after training on visuospatial WM, SMD=0.66, 95% CI 0.43, 0.89, p<.00001, and verbal WM tasks, SMD=0.40, 95% CI 0.18, 0.62, p = .0004. Conclusions Benefits of aWM training program generalise to improvements in everyday functioning. Initial evidence shows that the Cogmed method has significant benefits for inattention in daily life with a clinically relevant effect size.




Spencer-Smith, M., & Klingberg, T. (2015). Benefits of a working memory training program for inattention in daily life: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS ONE, 10(3).

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