N-back

Definition: The n-back task is a working memory paradigm where a sequence of stimuli in a chosen modality (e.g. visual) is presented (e.g. letters). Participants are asked to respond (e.g. via button press) when the currently presented stimulus is the same as the one presented n (usually 1, 2 or 3) trials before. For instance, in a 3-back task, where the trials consist of squares, participants have to decide whether the current square is the same as the square in trial n-3. With higher n, the working memory requirements increase. N-back tasks are usually presented in a block design, with e.g. 2-back working memory blocks and 1-back control blocks presented in (pseudo-) randomized order. The task requires several cognitive mechanisms such as encoding and temporary storage of each stimulus of the sequence. Incoming stimuli must be continuously updated while inhibiting irrelevant items, which must be removed from the working memory storage. It is also necessary to include a counting and matching process between the anticipatory and stored stimuli to make a decision as to indicate if the stimuli matches the correct response. Definition: The n-back task is a working memory paradigm where a sequence of stimuli in a chosen modality (e.g. visual) is presented (e.g. letters). Participants are asked to respond (e.g. via button press) when the currently presented stimulus is the same as the one presented n (usually 1, 2 or 3) trials before. For instance, in a 3-back task, where the trials consist of squares, participants have to decide whether the current square is the same as the square in trial n-3. With higher n, the working memory requirements increase. N-back tasks are usually presented in a block design, with e.g. 2-back working memory blocks and 1-back control blocks presented in (pseudo-) randomized order. The task requires several cognitive mechanisms such as encoding and temporary storage of each stimulus of the sequence. Incoming stimuli must be continuously updated while inhibiting irrelevant items, which must be removed from the working memory storage. It is also necessary to include a counting and matching process between the anticipatory and stored stimuli to make a decision as to indicate if the stimuli matches the correct response.

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References: https://doi.org/10.1016/0013-4694(93)90119-G

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