Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
June 2019, Vol. 31, No. 6, Pages 808-820
© 2019 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Independent Components of Neural Activation Associated with 100 Days of Cognitive Training
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Some cognitive training studies have reported working memory benefits that generalize beyond the trained tasks, whereas others have only found task-specific training effects. What brain networks are associated with general training effects, rather than task-specific effects? We investigated this question in the context of working memory training using the COGITO data set, a longitudinal project including behavioral assessments before and after 100 days of cognitive training in 101 younger (20–31 years) and 103 older (65–80 years) adults. Pre- and postassessments included verbal, numerical, and spatial measures of working memory. It was therefore possible to assess training effects on working memory at a general latent ability level. Previous analyses of these data found training-related improvements on this latent working memory factor in both young and old participants. fMRI data were collected from a subsample of participants (24 young and 15 old) during pre- and post-training sessions. We used independent component analysis to identify networks involved in a perceptual decision-making task performed in the scanner. We identified five task-positive components that were task-related: two frontal networks, a ventral visual network, a motor network, and a cerebellar network. Pre-training activity of the motor network predicted latent working memory performance before training. Additionally, activity in the motor network predicted training-related changes in working memory ability. These findings suggest activity in the motor network plays a role in task-independent working memory improvements and have implications for our understanding of working memory training and for the design and implementation of future training interventions.