Lay summary
A large number of studies demonstrate a strong correlation between general cognitive ability (i.e., general intelligence) and economic preferences. Recent studies show that rigorous working memory (WM) training can have spillover effects on fluid intelligence in normal subjects and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) patients, including on attentional tasks and inhibitory tasks in children with ADHD symptoms. This finding opens the possibility of examining the causal role of executive function on behavior and more importantly, on whether WM can be improved and if this improvement can lead to better decision-making in real-world outcomes (particulary for ADHD patients). In this project we will bring together a cross-functional team from psychiatry, neurosciences, and economics to address open issues regarding the effect of WM training on attention, inhibition, and economic decision-making in young adults with ADHD and healthy control subjects. The results will provide an objective measure of the impact of WM training on transfer of this learning to other tasks by ADHD patients and controls, and help to understand the association, or the separability, between distinct cognitive abilities. At the same time, we will evaluate the effects of WM training on brain processes using EEG during specific task performance. The results will provide important data about brain plasticity after WM training and brain networks involved in specific executive function tasks by patients and controls. In the context of an original interdisciplinary collaboration the outcome of this project will include also important policy implications on the effectiveness of cognitive training for young adult ADHD patients, of which many still struggle with strong ADHD symptoms, opening a wide range of applications. It will also provide us with new evidence on the benefits of cognitive training for healthy adult subjects, contributing to the policy discussion on self-administered medication to boost attention in high-pressure work environments.