Component analysis of simple span vs. complex span adaptive working memory exercises: A randomized, controlled trial

Bradley S. Gibson, William G. Kronenberger, Dawn M. Gondoli, Ann C. Johnson, Rebecca A. Morrissey, Christine M. Steeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations


There has been growing interest in using adaptive training interventions such as Cogmed-RM to increase the capacity of working memory (WM), but this intervention may not be optimally designed. For instance, Cogmed-RM can target the primary memory (PM) component of WM capacity, but not the secondary memory (SM) component. The present study hypothesized that Cogmed-RM does not target SM capacity because the simple span exercises it uses may not cause a sufficient amount of information to be lost from PM during training. To investigate, we randomly assigned participants to either a standard (simple span; N=. 31) or a modified (complex span; N=. 30) training condition. The main findings showed that SM capacity did not improve, even in the modified training condition. Hence, the potency of span-based WM interventions cannot be increased simply by converting simple span exercises into complex span exercises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-184
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012



  • Dual-component model of working memory
  • Working memory capacity
  • Working memory training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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