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10/2016 – 10/2020


Supporting Cognitive and Academic Development in Children at Risk: Metacognitive Executive Function Training in Children from Low Socioeconomic Backgrounds

The project investigates the effects of metacognitive executive function training in children from low socioeconomic backgrounds with an emphasis on transfer to academic abilities. Children are recruited in Germany and the UK to ensure greater generalizability. We focus on two age groups (4-6 vs. 8-10 years) to examine whether there is a developmentally sensitive period for cognitive training interventions.

Executive functions, the ability to control and regulate thoughts and actions, gradually develop in childhood and mature well into adolescence. They are important predictors for many life outcomes, including academic success. Therefore, numerous studies applied cognitive training interventions designed to improve executive functions. These studies showed that cognitive training not only improved performance on the training task but also benefitted untrained tasks and abilities (transfer). However, previous studies regarding the effects of executive control training on academic abilities have rendered heterogeneous findings. Thus, the project META-EF TRAIN investigates the effects of cognitive training focusing on the reflection and coordination of executive control processes (meta-cognitive training). The project o the Goethe University Frankfurt and the Department of Psycholog at the University of Edinburgh assesses children at the ages of 4 to 6 and 8 to 10. The aim is to design a training improving cognitive and academic abilities. Moreover, it will analyze which children benefit the most and whether there is a sensitive developmental period for meta-cognitive executive control training.

Selected Publications

Karbach, J., Strobach, T., & Schubert, T. (2015). Adaptive working-memory training benefits reading, but not mathematics in middle childhood. Child Neuropsychology, 21, 285301.

Strobach, T., & Karbach, J. (Eds.). (2016). Cognitive training: an overview of features and applications. Cham: Springer International.

Titz, C., & Karbach, J. (2014). Working memory and executive functions: Effects of training on academic achievement. Psychological Research, 78, 852868.