Benjamin Katz, Priti Shah, and David E. Meyer


Despite dozens of empirical studies and a growing body of meta-analytic work, there is little consensus regarding the efficacy of cognitive training. In this review, we examine why this substantial corpus has failed to answer the often-asked question, “Does cognitive training work?” We first define cognitive training and discuss the general principles underlying training interventions. Next, we review historical interventions and discuss how findings from this early work remain highly relevant for current cognitive training research. We highlight a variety of issues preventing real progress in understanding the underlying mechanisms of training, including the lack of a coherent theoretical framework to guide training research and methodological issues across studies and meta-analyses. Finally, suggestions for correcting these issues are offered in the hope that we might make greater progress in the next 100 years of cognitive-training research.

This article is part of a larger compilation of proceedings from “Digital Media and Developing Minds,” an interdisciplinary conference co-sponsored by Children and Screens and the National Academy of Sciences held in 2015. See a complete list of articles included in the proceedings.

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