New directions in brain training –

Effectiveness, methodology, and application of cognitive interventions

Workshop, October 11-13 2012

Humboldt University, Berlin

Organizers: Tilo Strobach, Torsten Schubert & Julia Karbach

We are hosting a workshop that will feature a series of presentations and discussions by leading scientists in the field of cognitive training research as well as a poster session for junior scientists.

The aim of our workshop is to:

Establish the state of the art in the field of cognitive training research by reviewing and discussing latest findings from different cognitive domains (e.g., training of working memory, episodic memory, executive control, speed of processing, reasoning or complex natural tasks such as video games) and discussing new methodological approaches.

Integrating the developmental, differential and neuroscientific findings about training in different cognitive and training domains in order to improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying training-induced cognitive and neural plasticity.

Outline new approaches to determine to which extent cognitive training in a laboratory context can be transferred to activities of daily living, such as academic abilities, and whether cognitive training is an effective tool to compensate for cognitive deficits associated with neurocognitive disorders.

Propose long-term best-practice guidelines (theoretical, conceptual and methodological) for research in the field of cognitive training

Scientific background

Throughout the entire lifespan, individuals are required to adapt to the demands of changing developmental contexts and dynamic social environments. The potential modifiability of a person’s cognitive and neural processes resulting from these adaptations has been referred to as plasticity. One way to understand plasticity is to apply training interventions and to measure their effects in trained and untrained situations.

Recently, the literature on cognitive interventions has been growing rapidly, showing that plasticity is present across the lifespan. However, the long-term maintenance as well as the transferability of training gains strongly depends on the type and the intensity of the intervention. Findings from cognitive neuroscience indicated that cognitive training often induces practice-related changes in the neural substrate, pointing to training-induced plasticity in a number of cortical and subcortical regions. Thus, cognitive training may be a promising tool for understanding basic mechanisms of adaptive behavior as well as for designing applications and interventions. Yet, not all studies have consistently shown beneficial effects of cognitive training and some key questions for our understanding of plasticity are still unanswered. Furthermore, a number of theoretical and methodological limitations to some training approaches have been discussed recently.

This workshop will address these issues. It is designed for an international, interdisciplinary group of researchers, including invited experts and junior scientists. Our aim is to integrate findings from different disciplines in order to improve our understanding of the mechanisms underlying training-induced cognitive and neural plasticity. We will design innovative methodological approaches, explore the potential of cognitive training for the application outside of the laboratory, and propose long-term best-practice guidelines for research in the field of cognitive training.