Training your brain for a particular task does improve its performance, but that advantage does not necessarily carry over to a new challenge, a researcher has revealed.
The training provided in the study, by Elliot T. Berkman from University of Oregon, caused a proactive shift in inhibitory control. However, it is not clear if the improvement attained extends to other kinds of executive function such as working memory, because the team's sole focus was on inhibitory control.
"With training, the brain activity became linked to specific cues that predicted when inhibitory control might be needed. This result is important because it explains how brain training improves performance on a given task- and also why the performance boost doesn't generalize beyond that task," he said.
Sixty participants (27 male, 33 females and ranging from 18 to 30 years old) took part in a three-phase study. Change in their brain activity was monitored with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Half of the subjects were in the experimental group that was trained with a task that models inhibitory control- one kind of self-control- as a race between a "go" process and a "stop" process. A faster stop process indicates more efficient inhibitory control.
Neural activity was monitored using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which captures changes in blood oxygen levels, during a stop-signal task.
The fMRI results identified three regions of the brain of the trained subjects that showed changes during the task, prompting the researchers to theorize that emotional regulation may have been improved by reducing distress and frustration during the trials.