Psychological research has long supported the conclusion that training on cognitive tasks doesn’t result in intelligence gains that transfer to other tasks—ie, memorizing long strings of numbers doesn’t help learning long strings of letters. But researchers say they've made a long-sought breakthrough that could lead to better treatments for learning disorders and memory loss, Scientific American reports.
"This is the first time that cognitive training led to improvement on an untrained task, so we can say it's a far-transfer task," said the lead researcher. Others in the field were intrigued but skeptical. "It will be important in education and a number of other things—if these results prove to hold up," said one, who labeled the findings "oversold."