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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

June 2019, Vol. 31, No. 6, Pages 808-820
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01396)
© 2019 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Independent Components of Neural Activation Associated with 100 Days of Cognitive Training
Article PDF (1.29 MB)
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.