A meta-analysis of the experimental evidence on the near- and far-transfer effects among children's executive function skills

Reka Kassai, Judit Futo, Zsolt Demetrovics, Zsofia K. Takacs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the present meta-analysis we examined the near- and far-transfer effects of training components of children's executive functions skills: working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility. We found a significant near-transfer effect (g+ = 0.44, k = 43, p < .001) showing that the interventions in the primary studies were successful in training the targeted components. However, we found no convincing evidence of far-transfer (g+ = 0.11, k = 17, p = .11). That is, training a component did not have a significant effect on the untrained components. By showing the absence of benefits that generalize beyond the trained components, we question the practical relevance of training specific executive function skills in isolation. Furthermore, the present results might explain the absence of far-transfer effects of working memory training on academic skills (Melby-Lervag & Hulme, 2013; Sala & Gobet, 2017).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-188
Number of pages24
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Volume145
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

Keywords

  • children
  • executive functions
  • intervention
  • meta-analysis

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