Date of Award

3-2019

Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Psychology

Second Department

Neuroscience

First Advisor

Cay Anderson-Hanley

Keywords

dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, neurocognitive disorder, exercise

Abstract

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) poses a serious risk to the older population. This disease may be a precursor to a more debilitating dementia, such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), and it affects the cognitive abilities as well as overall quality of life of those who suffer from it (Alzheimer’s Association, 2014). Finding preventative ways to combat these neurodegenerative illnesses is imperative for our increasing older population at risk. Prior research has shown benefits to cognition from physical exercise (Colcombe & Kramer, 2003); however, only a fraction of older adults actually achieve recommended levels (Chodzko-Zajko et al., 2009). Some researchers have explored the use of potentially more motivating exergames and have found benefits above and beyond physical exercise alone perhaps due to synergistic effects of physical and mental engagements (Anderson-Hanley et al., 2012A; Zhu et al., 2016). The current study attempts to replicate and extend prior research by examining the cognitive impact of a single bout of a neuro-exergame in which older adults engaged in interactive Physical and Cognitive Exercise (iPACES v2.5). This involved pedaling an under-table elliptical while playing an iPad-based videogame, which simulated independent living everyday function of running errands and retracing one’s path home. Fourteen older adults (mean age = 65.6 years old) were assessed pre- and post-exercise with neuropsychological tests of executive function (Stroop and Trails) as well as verbal memory (ADAS Word Recall). While no significant changes were observed in the sample taken as a whole, a repeated measures ANOVA (controlling for age) indicated a significantly greater benefit to verbal memory for MCI participants in contrast with normative older adults (p = .008). Further research is needed to confirm this finding in a larger sample, but it is consistent with some prior research on single bouts of exercise benefiting cognition of MCI more than normative older adults (Anderson-Hanley et al., 2016; Cohen et al., 2014). The implications of this type of research suggest that neuro-exergaming is feasible, including for those with MCI, and may yield immediate benefits to cognition; follow-up trials are needed to examine long-term use, factors affecting outcomes, and underlying mechanisms.

Available for download on Friday, March 20, 2020

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