Evaluation of cognitive improvements using technological and text-based skills training tools
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Recent research has indicated that use of cognitive skills training tools can produce positive benefits with older adults. However, little has been done to date comparing the efficacy of technologically based interventions (such as "Dr Kawashima's Brain Training" for the Nintendo DS Lite console) and more traditional, text-based interventions which are also available (for example Kawashima's (2007) "Train Your Brain: 60 Days to a Better Brain"), nor has it been determined which method older people derive most satisfaction from. This study aimed to investigate cognitive skills improvements experienced by 40 older adults and 27 students using cognitive skills training tools. A Solomon 4 group design was employed to determine which intervention demonstrated the greatest improvements among older adults. A separate between groups study was conducted with 27 third level students who also received the cognitive skills training. Participants were asked to use either tool for 5-10 minutes per day. Pre and post-tests consisted of a measure of numerical ability, memory (MAC-S) and intelligence (WASI or Raven's SPM). Following training older adults indicated significant improvements on numerical ability and verbal intelligence regardless of intervention type. Following training students indicated a significant improvement on numerical ability and a partial improvement in memory regardless of intervention type. Focus groups were completed to investigate the high drop-out rate among older adults and attitudes towards the Brain Training tools. Results from focus groups indicated a preference for the technological intervention. This research provides a critical appraisal of the Brain Training tools and can help point the way for future improvements in the area. Brain Training improvements could lead to improved quality of life, and perhaps have financial and independent living ramifications for older adults. Despite numerical ability improvements the overall benefit to younger users is unclear.
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