Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Brain Training Game Improves Executive Functions and Processing Speed in the Elderly: A Randomized Controlled Trial

The authors conducted a study involving 32 participants, all of whom were elderly individuals that volunteered to participate in the study.  This study took place in Miyagi prefecture, Japan from March to April 2010.  The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of brain training, particularly video games, on the elderly through a double blind experiment.

The participants were split into to different groups, which played a different game (Brain Age or Tetris).  The games were played for five days a week, for four weeks.  Each of the five weekdays, the participants played for 15 minutes; the Brain Age participants recorded both their title and the score they received while the Tetris group recorded just their score.  Participants in the Brain Age groups participated in a number of games that were both simple to preform as well as activated the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.  The Tetris groups was used as a control group, which looked largely at the positive effect that playing a game had compared to a game that used and stimulated various parts of the brain.

The four cognitive functions that were measured fell under four different categories; global cognitive status, executive function, attention, and processing speed.  A number of cognitive tests were applied to the participants to measure the various levels of cognition both prior and following the four weeks of engaging in activities.

The study found that the scores for the games improved from the initial test to the final test in both groups.  The results of this study further support previous research that indicates the application of games increases the cognitive abilities of elderly individuals.  Therefore, there is a positive correlation between the playing of brain games and the cognitive function of elderly individuals.

This study demonstrates the effectiveness of brain training. particularly in elderly individuals.  The study was effective in the sense that a number of individuals were sampled, and they were randomly placed into two different groups, one of which was a control group.  This provided a base of information in which data from playing mind games and just playing electronic video games and allowed the researchers to compare the two elements.

This is relevant to the intelligence community because it presents a different mindset for increasing cognition level, which potentially provides a different perspective on techniques and tools to use in the workplace to increase cognition levels.

Nouchi, R., Taki, Y., Takeuchi, H., Hashizume, H., Akitsuki, Y., Shigemune, Y., Sekiguchi, A., Kotozaki, Y., Tsukiura, T., Yomogida, Y., & Kawashima, R. (2012). Brain training game improves executive functions and processing speed in the elderly: A randomized controlled trial. PLoS ONE, 7(1), 1-9. Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=f895ac4a-8a3c-4692-9582-bed455513110%40sessionmgr104&vid=1&hid=101


  1. I found this study interesting because part of my study also focused on the ability of video game training on improving cognitive thinking processes of the participants. Based off of the articles we both summarized and critiqued, I feel that brain training would be a beneficial tool to institute within the intelligence community, with its ability to improve cognitive thinking processes and short term memory retention. A critique of this study would be that the authors only focused on the elderly population. I think that brain training games would also demonstrate similar benefits for younger demographics. However, brain training games for younger demographics needs to be tailored in a way that not just interests them, but challenges their cognitive thinking abilities.

  2. It is really interesting that the authors conducted this study across different age groups, but to my knowledge have not reported the results across the board. For instance, I read about the same study done with the young adult population. When reading that study and your summary of the study regarding the elderly population, I was taken aback by the fact that the authors used the Tetris group as the control group, especially since their findings suggested playing Tetris had some effect on attention and visuo-spatial analysis, at least that was the case for the young adults study.

    Additionally, it is interesting and potentially insightful that one of the authors (R. Kawashima) was the creator of Brain Age.

  3. I think by tailoring the study towards the older generation more useful results were generated. Considering the large differences in the brain of a young person as opposed to an elderly individual this likely increased the validity of the study as well. Although I also found it odd that a control group would play a game especially a game that involves a degree of strategy like Tetris. If those conducting the study wanted the control group to participate in playing a game they may have wanted to choose a game that involved a lesser degree of strategy.

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