Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD

Program

School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dale E. Berger

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

William Crano

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Jason Siegel

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Luciana Laganá

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2011 Giovanni W. Sosa

Abstract

While a well-established body of empirical work indicates that engaging in mentally stimulating activities is linked to positive physical and mental health outcomes, relatively few studies have specifically examined the impact that video game training can have on cognitive functioning and well-being. Given the substantial implications that such work has for an ever-growing older adult population, this area of research has begun to pique the interest of researchers world-wide. The present study employed an experimental paradigm to explore the impact of a Nintendo DS video game, Brain Age, on the cognitive functioning, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and video game attitudes of adults aged 65 and older. A total of 35 participants were recruited from various Senior Centers located in the San Fernando Valley and were randomly assigned to an intervention group that played Brain Age for five weeks (three hours of supervised training per week) or a control group that was only required to complete an assessment battery before and after a five week period. Findings stemming from ANCOVA analyses in which pre-test scores (and in the case of cognitive outcome variables, a separate cognitive screener) served as covariates indicated significant group differences with regards to brief arithmetic and syllable count assessments, and marginally significant differences on the basis of the Stroop Interference Test. While all the effects for self-efficacy, self-esteem, and a newly developed video game attitudes scale were in the predicted direction, no statistically significant group differences were found. Findings across the 16 examined outcome variables also indicate larger effects among cognitive outcome variables that are directly practiced via the intervention. Such findings also indicate larger effects among timed over non-timed cognitive measures, and among cognitive over affective/attitudinal variables. Notwithstanding limitations concerning the transferability of trained skills to a broader set of cognitive abilities, the current study's evidence suggests that playing a simple, inexpensive, and easily accessible videogame can enhance some aspects of cognitive functioning. These findings hold significant implications for the millions of older Americans looking for technologically-oriented avenues by which to sharpen their cognitive skills.

DOI

10.5642/cguetd/19

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