Dose-Response Effects of Working Memory Training Among Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes

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Virginia Tech


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic disease that is due to the dysregulation of glucose in the blood when insulin is not made endogenously. Patients rely on a combination of exogenic insulin, medications, blood glucose monitoring, and healthy lifestyle activities such as dietary control and exercise to manage their blood glucose levels. T1D typically begins its onset during childhood or adolescence, where it may also affect the development of executive function (EF) processes which are also relevant for self-regulation, or goal-directed behavior. This in turn may affect individuals’ adherence to their T1D management regimens, which can result in severe short- and long-term complications. Despite evidence for the plasticity of EF during childhood, previous research has not frequently focused on EF or self-regulation (SR) as a possible mechanism for improving health outcomes in adolescents with T1D. This study focused on the dosage of EF training and its possible effects on both cognitive and health outcomes for 47 adolescents (M= 15.4, SD =1.45) with T1D undergoing a larger adherence intervention. EF was measured by the Digit Span and Go/No-Go tests, while composite measures of T1D treatment adherence were aggregated via separate parent and adolescent reports. It was hypothesized that both cognitive measures and treatment adherence would have a dose-dependent relationship with n-back training. However, no association was found between training dosage and EF outcomes or treatment adherence. The study’s limitations include a relatively small sample size along with low participant compliance for the EF training. It also might be that the relationship between EF, SR, and health behaviors is more nuanced than previously suggested and that there are a variety of reasons why dosage of training was not linked to differential outcomes. As such, further investigation is required to better understand this relationship in the search for effective interventions for health behavior.



Working Memory Training, Cognitive Intervention, Adolescents, Type 1 Diabetes, Self-Regulation, N-back Training, Health Behavior