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There is no convincing evidence that working memory training is NOT effective: A reply to Melby-Lervåg and Hulme (2015).

  • Author(s): Au, Jacky
  • Buschkuehl, Martin
  • Duncan, Greg J
  • Jaeggi, Susanne M
  • et al.
Abstract

Our recent meta-analysis concluded that training on working memory can improve performance on tests of fluid intelligence (Au et al., Psychon Bull Rev, 22(2), 366-377, 2015). Melby-Lervåg and Hulme (Psychon Bull Rev, doi: 10.3758/s13423-015-0862-z ) challenge this conclusion on the grounds that it did not take into consideration baseline differences on a by-study level and that the effects were primarily driven by purportedly less rigorous studies that did not include active control groups. Their re-analysis shows that accounting for baseline differences produces a statistically significant, but considerably smaller, overall effect size (g = 0.13 vs g = 0.24 in Au et al.), which loses significance after excluding studies without active controls. The present report demonstrates that evidence of impact variation by the active/passive nature of control groups is ambiguous and also reveals important discrepancies between Melby-Lervåg and Hulme's analysis and our original meta-analysis in terms of the coding and organization of data that account for the discrepant effect sizes. We demonstrate that there is in fact no evidence that the type of control group per se moderates the effects of working memory training on measures of fluid intelligence and reaffirm the original conclusions in Au et al., which are robust to multiple methods of calculating effect size, including the one proposed by Melby-Lervåg and Hulme.

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