Computerized and Non-Computerized Approaches to Brain Games for Maintaining and Enhancing Mental Acuity in Healthy Older Adults: An Investigation of Performance Enhancement
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Brain Fitness Games
Cognitive Performance Enhancement
Games User Research
Brain fitness games refer to games that are specifically designed with the goal of maintaining and enhancing mental acuity. While these games may generally be designed for players of all ages, some are designed for specific populations such as kids, teens, adults, older adults (seniors), etc. In older adult populations, research has shown that the main cognitive abilities that change with aging include: perception, attention, memory, and other more specific processes such as decision-making. With the right design of games that uses motivation, goal and incentives, these games may provide a learning experience coupled with the ?fun? that comes with playing games. Although player and game characteristics are known to affect player gaming performance and outcomes, no study has researched healthy older adults and performance enhancement approaches to current brain fitness games available for such populations. The aim of this dissertation research study is to investigate player demographic factors (such as age, race, gender, educational background, technology savviness) and game platform (paper versus mobile/tablet) on game outcomes and player experience. This dissertation research study investigates the research problem with a mixed method games user study by engaging participants with a commercially available game-set designed to maintain and enhance mental acuity in older adults. A cohort of older adults in the baby boomer generation is recruited to play the game and share their experience playing the game on both paper and electronic platforms. A randomized sampling method is used to place participants into groups that determine the order of platform (paper before electronic or vice versa) on which they play the games. During each study, data on the following criteria are collected: user demographics, platform type, user outcomes, and user subjective experiences shared. Both descriptive and statistical analyses are used to deduce meaning from the quantitative data collected. With the qualitative data analyses, data transcription, and coding are used to form themes and meaning from the subjective responses. Implications of the findings and discussions of the study may contribute to furthering wide adoption and implementation of such game interventions for maintaining and enhancing mental acuity in older adult populations.