Lumosity, the online cognitive training and neuroscience research company, is presenting today at the annual 2013 Society for Neuroscience meeting showing that optimizing training tasks can accelerate and lengthen learning rates. The study, titled "Optimizing Cognitive Training Task Designs to Improve Learning Rates in a Large Online Population," found that altering various psychophysical task parameters that make a task more challenging led to different learning rates of the tasks. Results showed that the altered training task group showed greater improvements in spatial recall and attention, and effects were dose-dependent.
"These results are interesting because they show that small changes to a training task can lead to large differences in learning rates," said Aaron Kaluszka, Ph.D. Candidate, Research Scientist at Lumosity, and lead author on the study. "Understanding the impact of these changes in training can inform our understanding of online game-based learning, and help us develop more targeted tasks that help people of all ages and skill levels learn faster and more efficiently."
The study included a sample of 586, 326 participants who were randomly assigned into either the altered version of a training task or training as usual. The experimental games included Lost in Migration (flanker task), which altered flanker distance, rotation and stimuli ratio size, and Memory Matrix (pattern span task), which altered the starting point for the number of objects to remember and increased error tolerance.
Participants were blinded to the altered training changes, and both groups performed the tasks daily for 17 days, which resulted in over 2.2 million game plays. Performance metrics such as accuracy, reaction time and memory capacity were recorded before and after across both groups. The study found that participants performed the flanker task more easily and improved at a slightly faster rate when sizes, distances and rotations were not changed, and altering rotations had a much larger effect. For the pattern span task, participants made greater improvements in spatial recall when allowed to make mistakes and when larger spans were practiced.