“Promoting learning and achievement across the lifespan using an individual differences approach”
Abstract: I will present work from my group that has been focusing on the development and malleability of domain-general cognitive functions, and how they affect learning in various contexts. Specifically, I will illustrate how experiences and environmental factors such as schooling, musical training, or video gaming might impact such domain-general functions. Furthermore, I will present work that is dedicated to the creation and implementation of targeted interventions to improve cognition and learning in diverse populations. Although there is accumulating evidence for the efficacy of such interventions, the outcomes have been inconsistent, which has led to controversies in the field. I will argue that these inconsistencies illustrate the need to devote more research efforts to better understand the underlying mechanisms of cognitive training, as well as the features that contribute to the intervention outcome, and how those features can be leveraged to induce meaningful learning. I will present the results of several randomized controlled multi-site trials conducted by our group that address those issues. Furthermore, I will report on our recent work in which we combine cognitive training with transcranial direct current stimulation with the aim of boosting the training benefits. Collectively, I will demonstrate that cognitive training can indeed lead to benefits that generalize beyond task-specific learning, but at the same time, I will show that there are boundary conditions and important individual differences that moderate training efficacy. I will conclude by emphasizing that the focus on individual differences can provide important insights to inform the development of more effective interventions to promote transfer, and I will discuss the implications of our findings for learning and plasticity across the lifespan.
For inquiries contact Mimi Hilburg.