Exergames and Neuropsychological Functions in Older Adults: An Experimental Approach
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Digital games that combine physical exercise and cognitive activities, known in the literature as exergames, can improve players’ health and functional capacity. As exergames are becoming popular tools to enhance cognitive functions, we analyzed the neuropsychological performance of older adults who trained with games and others who performed traditional physical activities. We aimed to test if virtual training in multitasking games could result in better performance in brief neuropsychological time and place orientation, attention, memory, language, and arithmetic skills. The sample consisted of 31 independently living older adults. The virtual training group completed interactive activities in multitasking games, whereas the control group engaged in physical activities for aerobic resistance, speed, and balance. The NEUPSILIN Brief Neuropsychological Assessment Battery was used to assess cognitive functions. After 16 weeks of training, the performance of older adults who played games was significantly improved (p < 0.05) for attention, memory, and language. The performance of older adults in the control group was on average significantly improved for memory, language, and praxis (i.e., basic motor skills). This chapter reports on this study, but also reflects on research design and implementation issues considering the challenges and opportunities of experimental approaches and neuropsychological instruments to evaluate the bio-psychosocial impact of using exergames in later life.
KeywordsOlder adults Multitasking game Mental training Cognitive functions Physical exercises NEUPSILIN Brief Neuropsychological Assessment Battery
This research and chapter were supported by the Coordination and Improvement of Higher Level or Education Personnel (Capes) BEX 2169/13-4 funded by the Brazilian government. The authors would like to thank participants, the recreational center, and the psychologist Mariane Luiza Mattjie for administering the NEUPSILIN Brief Neuropsychological Assessment Battery.
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