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Feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of mobile cognitive control training during basic combat training in the military

posted on 05.11.2021, 20:00 authored by Rina Ben-Avraham, Anat Afek, Noa Berezin Cohen, Alex Davidov, Tom Van Vleet, Josh Jordan, Ariel Ben Yehudah, Yafit Gilboa, Mor Nahum

Periods of stressful events, such as those experienced during combat training in the military, may lead to psychological distress and reduced quality of life (QoL). Mental resilience, the capacity to overcome negative effects of setbacks on performance, may help protect one from the adversities associated with basic combat training. Among the factors contributing to mental resilience is cognitive control, the mechanism which helps maintain our goal directed behavior. Here we examined the feasibility of a mobile cognitive control training (CCT) app to engage young adults during their basic military training with the intention of improving resilience, mental health and QoL. 153 participants were randomly assigned to complete 2-3 weeks of either mobile CCT (n = 74) or active control training (ACT, mobile games; n = 79). Resilience, QoL, mood and self-efficacy were assessed at baseline and post-intervention. Participants completed, on average, 7.28 ± 3.03 training sessions (out of the planned 14), indicating relatively low feasibility of CCT during basic combat training period and inconsistent engagement with training. In addition, there was lack of improvement in the training tasks (‘target engagement’). Accordingly, no significant time by group interactions were found on any of the outcome measures, potentially due to the limited feasibility. We conclude that short-term mobile CCT has low feasibility during basic combat training and discuss the results of this study considering factors that might have contributed to the lack of feasibility of the training protocol.


This work was supported by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Directorate of Defense Research and Development (Grant Number 4440836450).