Objectives: The aims of this study were to determine whether working memory (WM) training improves cognitive functioning of older adults and to determine the role of cognitive reserve in WM training.
Method: Twenty-one older adults, aged between 65 and 91 years were included in the study. Ten of them were in the experimental group and 11 in the passive control group. The experimental group underwent 15 training sessions of n-back training over a period of five weeks, whereas the control group remained passive. All participants (from experimental and control group) were tested before the training, one week after the training and three months after the training with Rey–Osterrieth/Taylor Complex Figure test (ROCF), Digit span and TMT (part A and part B).
Results and Conclusion: Results of our study suggest that although the experimental group slightly improved their performance on the trained task, the progress was not statistically significant. There was also no statistically significant transfer of training effects onto tasks of visual-spatial and verbal memory, as well as those related to executive functioning. However, the study did identify a statistically significant correlation between cognitive reserve and certain tests performed at the final testing: tasks measuring executive functioning and spatial ability. Results also revealed that the group that showed improvement on the training task was significantly better in ROCF test in comparison with the group that has not improved their performance on N-back task. Thus, visual-spatial abilities (visual perception, construction and memory) were more connected with success in WM training, than other measured cognitive abilities (e.g. verbal and numerical memory).