Memory training (MT) in older adults with memory deficits often leads to frustration and, therefore, is usually not recommended. Here, we pursued an alternative approach and looked for transfer effects of 1-week attentional filter training (FT) on working memory performance and its neuronal correlates in young healthy humans. The FT effects were compared with pure MT, which lacked the necessity to filter out irrelevant information. Before and after training, all participants performed an fMRI experiment that included a combined task in which stimuli had to be both filtered based on color and stored in memory. We found that training induced processing changes by biasing either filtering or storage. FT induced larger transfer effects on the untrained cognitive function than MT. FT increased neuronal activity in frontal parts of the neuronal gatekeeper network, which is proposed to hinder irrelevant information from being unnecessarily stored in memory. MT decreased neuronal activity in the BG part of the gatekeeper network but enhanced activity in the parietal storage node. We take these findings as evidence that FT renders working memory more efficient by strengthening the BG–prefrontal gatekeeper network. MT, on the other hand, simply stimulates storage of any kind of information. These findings illustrate a tight connection between working memory and attention, and they may open up new avenues for ameliorating memory deficits in patients with cognitive impairments.

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