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Ariës Roel J., Ghysels Joris, Groot Wim & Maassen van den Brink Henriëtte: Does n-back training in a school-based context

 

Abstract

N-back training might stimulate the working memory (wm) function and, as a result, improve reasoning. There are no systematic reviews of the literature on the effects of n-back training in school-based settings. At the same time, school students sometimes experience difficulties in school-tests that are composed of reasoning questions. This paper reviews the literature on n-back training in relation to reasoning in a school-based context. It focuses on n-back training in school-based designs. School-based wm training which includes n-back tasks and non-school-based designs, are also analyzed in order to broaden the scope and possible implications and pitfalls of school-based n-back designs. We conclude that results are ambiguous with a tendency to non-significant effects on reasoning improvements. Future research should better address methodological and didactical considerations before proceeding to implement n-back training in school curricula. These concern motivational issues, personalizing training accounting for age, baseline wm capacity and reasoning skills, and minimizing distractions.

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