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Title: The clinical applications of working memory training
Author: Hotton, Matthew
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 7209
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Working memory is involved in a variety of cognitive tasks, with working memory capacity predicting an individual's ability to process information and focus attention on taskrelated information. Subsequently, recent research has investigated whether working memory capacity can be improved through training and whether improvements generalise to other cognitive, behavioural or emotional domains. This training is typically adaptive in nature, changing in difficulty according to participant ability, and can be completed in the participant's home on a computer, giving it the potential to be an easily accessible intervention for a range of clinical populations. The first paper presents a systematic review evaluating the effectiveness of computerised working memory training for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, which are often associated with working memory difficulties. The review found that to date, working memory training has been investigated in four neurodevelopmental disorders: attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder; autism spectrum disorder; intellectual disability and specific learning disorder. The findings indicate that although training appears to produce short-term improvements in the working memory capacity, this does not reliably generalise to other cognitive processes or disorder-specific symptoms. The second paper presents a randomised controlled trial investigating the effects of working memory training for reducing worry in high-worriers. Working memory capacity limitations, and subsequent difficulties in attentional control, are believed to be central to the maintenance of worry. Participants were randomly assigned to complete 15 days of nonadaptive working memory training using a 1-back task, or adaptive working memory training using a n-back task. Training led to improvements in working memory capacity and worry symptoms post-training and at four-week follow-up, with improvements on the adaptive training task significantly correlating with improvements in working memory capacity and worry. These findings are discussed in terms of implications for clinical practice and future research, together with the limitations of the study.
Supervisor: Murphy, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Clinical psychology ; Psychology ; Cognitive neuroscience ; Psychology ; Experimental ; Neuropsychology ; Neurodevelopmental disorders ; Worry ; Working memory training