The Effects of Computerized Cognitive Training With and Without Physical Exercise on Cognitive Function in Older Adults: An 8-Week Randomized Controlled Trial.J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2020 03 09; 75(4):755-763.JG
Aging is characterized by cognitive changes in specific domains, such as declines in memory and executive functions. Given the world's aging population, it is important to identify and evaluate strategies that promote healthy cognitive aging. Besides exercise, computerized cognitive training (CCT) is a promising approach to promote cognitive function. Moreover, a single bout of exercise immediately prior to CCT may provide additional cognitive benefits.
An 8-week proof-of-concept randomized controlled trial to investigate the effect of a commercial CCT intervention, alone and when preceded by exercise, on cognitive function. Participants (124; aged 65-85 years) performed 8 weeks of: (i) Group-based CCT (Fit Brains) 3×/week for 1 hour plus 3×/week home-based training; (ii) Group-based CCT preceded by exercise (Ex-CCT) 3×/week for 1 hour plus 3×/week home-based training (exercise+CCT); or (iii) Group-based balanced and toned (BAT) classes 3×/week for 1 hour (control). Memory was assessed by the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test. Executive functions were assessed using the: (i) Stroop Test, (ii) Trail Making Tests (TMT), (iii) Flanker Test, and (iv) Dimensional Change Card Sort Test (DCCS).
At trial completion, there were no significant between-group differences in memory (p > .05). However, compared with BAT, CCT, and Ex-CCT significantly improved Stroop performance (-10.72, 95% confidence interval [CI]: -16.53, -4.91; -7.95, 95% CI: -13.77, -2.13, respectively). Moreover, Ex-CCT significantly improved the performance on TMT (-13.65, 95% CI: -26.09, -1.22), the Flanker Test (6.72, 95% CI: 2.55, 10.88), and the DCCS Test (6.75, 95% CI: 0.99, 12.50).
An 8-week CCT program may promote executive functions in older adults and combining it with a bout of exercise may provide broader benefits.