Objectives: The aims of this study were to determine whether Working Memory (WM)
training improves the cognitive functioning of older adults and to determine the role of cognitive
reserve in WM training.
Methods: 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 the 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 in the training task was significantly better in the ROCF test in comparison
with the group that had not improved their performance on the 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).