ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 52 ›› Issue (10): 1212-1223.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.01212

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Training and transfer effects of response inhibition training with online feedback on adolescents and adults’ executive function

WANG Yuan1, LI Ke2, GAI Xiaosong1(), CAO Yifei1   

  1. 1 School of Psychology, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130024, China
    2 Yantai Vocational College of Culture and Tourism, Yantai 264000, China
  • Received:2019-08-16 Published:2020-10-25 Online:2020-08-24
  • Contact: GAI Xiaosong
  • Supported by:
    This research was funded by Ministry of education Youth Fund for Humanities and Social Sciences Research(17YJC190025);youth team project of philosophy and Social Sciences School of Northeast Normal University (special fund for basic scientific research business expenses of Central Universities)(18QT008)


The plasticity of executive function (EF) has been discussed as a core topic in the recent cognitive development research. However, inhibition training research remains inadequate. According to dimensional overlap theory, inhibition has two types: interference and response. The neural networks of the brain that respond to conflicts do not mature until early adulthood. By conducting a comparison of the plasticity of response inhibition between adolescents and adults, the applicable age group for response inhibition training is explored. Introducing online feedback as reinforcement improves the training effects and helps individuals to balance further accuracy and speed. Therefore, we added online feedback in the training groups but used the original Stop Signal task in the active control groups to investigate the training and transfer effects of this task with online feedback.

This study included 194 participants (134 adults and 60 adolescents) that were divided into five groups: adult training group (N = 47), adult active control group (N = 45), adolescent training group (N = 30), adolescent active control group (N = 30), and passive control group (N = 42). The response inhibition training consisted of nine sessions, and it was held three times a week. In each training session of the adult and adolescent training groups, participants were guided to finish eight blocks (100 trials in each block) of the Stop Signal task with online feedback. In the adult and adolescent active control groups, participants completed the same amount of the Stop Signal task without online feedback. The passive control group received no training. The participants’ inhibition, working memory, and fluid intelligence were measured before and after training through six tasks (e.g., Inhibition: Stop Signal Task, Go/No-go Task, and Stroop Task; Working memory: 2-back Task and 3-back Task; and Fluid intelligence: Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices).

A 9 (all training sessions) × 2 (training group, active control group) × 2 (adult, adolescent) repeated measure ANOVA was used to test the training effects. Both age groups exhibited improved performances with the continuation of the training sessions. However, the adults performed significantly faster and more accurate than the adolescents. Next, four 2 (pretest, posttest) × 5 (all five groups) repeated measure ANOVA were conducted to test the transfer effects. The transfer effect results revealed that (1) on the Go/No-go task, both training groups showed significant improvement; (2) on the Stroop task, only the adolescent training group showed significant improvement; (3) on the 2-back task, both training groups and the adult active control group improved significantly; (4) on the 3-back task, only the adolescent training group gained significant transfer effects; and (5) on the Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices, no group showed significant improvement.

To sum up, the results suggest that the Stop Signal training task with online feedback has produced training effects on both age groups, and the transfer effects are influenced by the age difference of cognitive plasticity and the nature of the task. Thus, adding online feedback to computerized training can effectively improve the training and the transfer effects. Finally, inhibition training has a more formative effect on the pre-adult age.

Key words: response inhibition training, executive function, adolescents, online feedback