Working Memory Training Is Associated with Changes in Resting State Functional Connectivity in Children Who Were Born Extremely Preterm: a Randomized Controlled Trial

Chieh En Jane Tseng, Leona Pascoe, Gehan Roberts, Lex W. Doyle, Katherine J. Lee, Deanne K. Thompson, Marc Seal, Elisha K. Josev, Jian Chen, Chiara Nosarti, Peter J. Anderson

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Children born extremely preterm (EP; < 28 weeks of gestation) or extremely low birth weight (ELBW; < 1000 g) are at increased risk of working memory deficits compared with their term-born peers and may benefit from working memory training. This study aimed to determine whether Cogmed Working Memory Training®, compared with a placebo training program, was associated with changes in resting-state functional connectivity (rsfc) and whether these changes correlated with working memory performance in EP/ELBW children. Twenty-one 7-year-old EP/ELBW children were enrolled in a double-blinded randomized controlled trial and had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) assessments (Cogmed, n = 12; placebo (a non-adaptive version of Cogmed), n = 9). Prior to training (baseline) and 2 weeks post-training, all children received a cognitive assessment, inclusive of immediate memory and working memory measures and an MRI. The Cogmed Improvement Index was used as a measure of improvement in trained activities in the Cogmed group. Resting-state functional MRI was used to measure training-related changes in intra- and inter-network rsfc. The networks assessed include the default mode network, the left and right central executive networks, the bilateral executive network, the dorsal attention network, and the salience network. rsfc data were compared between treatment groups and investigated in relation to changes in working memory performance. There was little evidence of differences in intra- or inter-network rsfc strength changes from baseline to post-training between treatment groups. In the Cogmed group, working memory performance was associated with increased rsfc from baseline to post-training within the precuneus network, but not in the placebo group. In the Cogmed group, results that did not survive multiple comparison correction further showed that improvement in trained activities was associated with increased rsfc between the left central and bilateral executive networks, and with decreased rsfc within the right central executive network and between the right central executive and salience networks. Changes in rsfc may facilitate working memory performance following Cogmed training. Further studies are needed to investigate how changes in rsfc are associated with behavioral changes to better support working memory in vulnerable groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-387
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cognitive Enhancement
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Extremely preterm
  • Resting-state fMRI
  • Working memory training

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