It is known that training can improve working memory.  Now, research published in Science, substantiates the fact that working-memory training is associated with an increased release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in specific brain regions, particularly the caudate, a region located below the neocortex.  Researchers note that the dopaminergic influx was particularly large in this brain region highlighting the importance of dopamine for improving working-memory performance.

The five-week study involved 10 young men trained in improving working memory using a letter-memory task versus a control group receiving no training. On a screen – three times a week – the participants were presented with 7 to 15 letters for 45 minutes. The task was to remember the last four letters in the sequence in correct order. Compared to the control group, the trained group showed a gradual improvement of working-memory performance.

PET scans demonstrated an increased release of dopamine in the caudate immediately after training. In addition, while dopamine release was seen during the letter-memory task before training, dopamine release was markedly increased after training.

In addition, improvements after training were demonstrated in an untrained task that also requires working memory performance, strongly suggesting that the training generally improved working memory.

This study suggests that working memory training should be considered for those in need of improved working memory functioning such as those persons with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

Further studies are indicated to determine which types of working memory training are most effective.