Short video game play improves executive function in the oldest old living in residential care

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Journal Article
Computers in Human Behavior, 2020, 108
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© 2020 Elsevier Ltd Action video game play as a form of cognitive training shows promise, but has not been widely tested with participants exclusively over age 80 years. Age-related decline in executive function produces widely varying levels of ability to function independently. This study aimed to examine the change in executive functioning after a 3-week action video game intervention in healthy adults aged 80–97 years living in residential care. Participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental or care-as-usual control group: experimental participants played Star Wars Battlefront©, a commercially available video game, for six supervised sessions of 30 min each. Participants completed neuropsychological and quality of life assessments pre-training, post-training, and one month later. The experimental group showed significant improvement in the visual attention and task switching domains, in both post-test and follow-up sessions. Working memory also improved in the experimental group; however, after one month of no game play, memory performance regressed toward baseline levels. Results support the incorporation of video game play as a leisure option for older adults, which may also play a role in enhancing cognitive health. The findings extend previous research conducted below age 80 years to the oldest-old, an age group in which longitudinal follow up data is limited.
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