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Study: Brain training game can improve prospective memory and activities of daily living

virtualweekbVir­tu­al Week’ brain game has poten­tial to help old­er adults remain inde­pen­dent longer (press release):

An inter­na­tion­al team of sci­en­tists has demon­strat­ed that just one month of train­ing on a “Vir­tu­al Week” com­put­er brain game helps old­er adults sig­nif­i­cant­ly strength­en prospec­tive mem­o­ry — a type of mem­o­ry that is cru­cial for plan­ning, every­day func­tion­ing and inde­pen­dent liv­ing

Prospec­tive mem­o­ry refers to the abil­i­ty to remem­ber and suc­cess­ful­ly car­ry out inten­tions and planned activ­i­ties dur­ing the day; it also tends to weak­en with age. Prospec­tive mem­o­ry accounts for between 50 — 80% of report­ed every­day mem­o­ry prob­lems, yet few stud­ies have attempt­ed to train or reha­bil­i­tate prospec­tive mem­o­ry in old­er adults…

In the study, sci­en­tists devel­oped a ver­sion of a com­put­er­ized board game called “Vir­tu­al Week” in which play­ers sim­u­late going through the course of a day on a cir­cuit that resem­bles a Monop­oly board. Play­ers roll a vir­tu­al die (one of a pair of dice) to move their token through a vir­tu­al day. Along the way, play­ers have to remem­ber to per­form sev­er­al prospec­tive mem­o­ry tasks, such as tak­ing med­ica­tion or tak­ing their din­ner out of the oven at appro­pri­ate times.”

Study: Cog­ni­tive and neur­al plas­tic­i­ty in old­er adults’ prospec­tive mem­o­ry fol­low­ing train­ing with the Vir­tu­al Week com­put­er game (Fron­tiers in Human Neu­ro­science).

  • Con­clu­sion: A short dura­tion of cog­ni­tive train­ing with the Vir­tu­al Week train­ing pro­gram result­ed in rather large train­ing relat­ed gains in PM per­for­mance and some small changes in neur­al cor­re­lates of PM pro­cess­ing. Train­ing gains result­ed in far trans­fer in the form of enhanced accu­ra­cy and effi­cien­cy in per­form­ing real-world PM tasks and instru­men­tal activ­i­ties of dai­ly liv­ing. The Vir­tu­al Week train­ing pro­gram, which incor­po­rates a “train for trans­fer” prin­ci­ple, rep­re­sents an inno­v­a­tive avenue for cog­ni­tive train­ing and poten­tial­ly enhanc­ing func­tion­al inde­pen­dence.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Technology

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