Title: TRANSFER AND MAINTENANCE EFFECTS OF N-BACK WORKING MEMORY TRAINING IN INTERPRETING STUDENTS: A BEHAVIOURAL AND OPTICAL BRAIN IMAGING STUDY
PhD Candidate: Asiye Öztürk
Program: Cognitive Science Department
Date: 29 August 13:00
Place: Conference Hall-01
Abstract:Working memory training is seen as an effective tool for enhancing performance during a variety of high level cognitive tasks for different groups such as children, older people, and individuals with cognitive problems as well as practitioners of highly cognitive demanding professions. Although there has been some controversy regarding the efficiency of working memory training interventions, it has been shown that n-back working memory training results in improvements in working memory capacity as well as in reasoning skills which points out that it yields both near and far transfer effects. Considering the crucial role of working memory in interpreting profession, this thesis targeted interpreting students in order to investigate transfer and maintenance effects of n-back working memory training through a comprehensive analysis of its near, moderate and far transfer effects as well as possible transfer to consecutive interpreting. Combining behavioural data collection methods and fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) as an optical brain imaging technique, the thesis was designed as a longitudinal study in which participants completed a series of tests before and after the training as well as three months after the completion of the training sessions. Compared to an active control group, n-back group had larger performance gains in near and far transfer tasks, and more importantly in consecutive interpreting scores as a result of enhanced working memory capacity, suggesting that common working memory processes are employed in the tasks. Significant neural activity patterns observed in prefrontal cortex reflect the shared cognitive processes of n-back training and consecutive interpreting, which is supported by performance improvements in consecutive interpreting and increased neural efficiency. Therefore, it is believed that findings of this thesis will have original contributions to the field.