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Cogmed training does not generalise to real-world benefits for adult hearing aid users: results of a blinded, active-controlled randomised trial

Henshaw, Helen; Heinrich, Antje; Tittle, Ashana; Ferguson, Melanie

Cogmed training does not generalise to real-world benefits for adult hearing aid users: results of a blinded, active-controlled randomised trial Thumbnail


Authors

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HELEN HENSHAW HELEN.HENSHAW@NOTTINGHAM.AC.UK
Principal Research Fellow

Antje Heinrich

Ashana Tittle

Melanie Ferguson



Abstract

Objectives: Performance on working memory tasks is positively associated with speech-in-noise perception performance, particularly where auditory inputs are degraded. It is suggested that interventions designed to improve working memory capacity may improve domain-general working memory performance for people with hearing loss, to benefit their real-world listening. We examined whether a 5-week training program that primarily targets the storage component of working memory (Cogmed RM, adaptive) could improve cognition, speech-in-noise perception and self-reported hearing in a randomized controlled trial of adult hearing aid users with mild to moderate hearing loss, compared with an active control (Cogmed RM, nonadaptive) group of adults from the same population. Design: A preregistered randomized controlled trial of 57 adult hearing aid users (n = 27 experimental, n = 30 active control), recruited from a dedicated database of research volunteers, examined on-task learning and generalized improvements in measures of trained and untrained cognition, untrained speech-in-noise perception and self-reported hearing abilities, pre- to post-training. Participants and the outcome assessor were both blinded to intervention allocation. Retention of training-related improvements was examined at a 6-month follow-up assessment. Results: Per-protocol analyses showed improvements in trained tasks (Cogmed Index Improvement) that transferred to improvements in a trained working memory task tested outside of the training software (Backward Digit Span) and a small improvement in self-reported hearing ability (Glasgow Hearing Aid Benefit Profile, Initial Disability subscale). Both of these improvements were maintained 6-month post-training. There was no transfer of learning shown to untrained measures of cognition (working memory or attention), speech-in-noise perception, or self-reported hearing in everyday life. An assessment of individual differences showed that participants with better baseline working memory performance achieved greater learning on the trained tasks. Post-training performance for untrained outcomes was largely predicted by individuals' pretraining performance on those measures. Conclusions: Despite significant on-task learning, generalized improvements of working memory training in this trial were limited to (a) improvements for a trained working memory task tested outside of the training software and (b) a small improvement in self-reported hearing ability for those in the experimental group, compared with active controls. We found no evidence to suggest that training which primarily targets storage aspects of working memory can result in domain-general improvements that benefit everyday communication for adult hearing aid users. These findings are consistent with a significant body of evidence showing that Cogmed training only improves performance for tasks that resemble Cogmed training. Future research should focus on the benefits of interventions that enhance cognition in the context in which it is employed within everyday communication, such as training that targets dynamic aspects of cognitive control important for successful speech-in-noise perception.

Citation

Henshaw, H., Heinrich, A., Tittle, A., & Ferguson, M. (2022). Cogmed training does not generalise to real-world benefits for adult hearing aid users: results of a blinded, active-controlled randomised trial. Ear and Hearing, 43(3), 741-763. https://doi.org/10.1097/AUD.0000000000001096

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 11, 2021
Online Publication Date May 14, 2022
Publication Date May 14, 2022
Deposit Date Jun 23, 2021
Publicly Available Date May 15, 2023
Journal Ear and Hearing
Print ISSN 0196-0202
Electronic ISSN 1538-4667
Publisher Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 3
Pages 741-763
DOI https://doi.org/10.1097/AUD.0000000000001096
Keywords Speech and Hearing; Otorhinolaryngology
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/5720525
Publisher URL https://journals.lww.com/ear-hearing/Abstract/9000/Cogmed_Training_Does_Not_Generalize_to_Real_World.98436.aspx
Additional Information Financial disclosures/conflicts of interest: The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health and Social Care. There are no conflicts of interest, financial, or otherwise. Cogmed and Cogmed Working Memory Training are trademarks, in the U.S. and/or other countries, of Pearson Education, Inc. or its affiliate(s). The data that support the findings of this study are openly available in ClinicalTrials.gov at https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/study/NCT01892007, reference number NCT01892007. All correspondence should be addressed to: Helen Henshaw, NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, Ropewalk House, 113 The Ropewalk, Nottingham, NG1 5DU, United Kingdom.

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