It is now well-known that regular intellectual activity (reading, crosswords, card and other cognitive games) reduces the risk of dementia and slows its progression. It is also increasingly in the forefront of interest, how different Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools can be used in measuring various mental functions and in the early detection and improvement of cognitive decline.
Over the past decade, a new method – called gamification – has been developed to measure and improve some of the components of cognitive functions. Numerous studies have shown that regular use of computer games developed for the elderly can easily measure and track changes in mental functions while providing a pleasant time for the users. Another important goal of using cognitive games is to slow down the progression of cognitive decline. Digital games are not only enjoyable activities, but also increase the self-confidence and self-esteem of the elderly. This way those can be an affirmation experience to the users by boosting their motivation and reducing anxiety. A special combination of entertainment, mental, physical, and social activity allows elderly users to remain active, so they can improve their autonomy and Quality of Life (QoL).
In our research, we used the Find the Pairs (FtP) memory game with elderly patients with mild to moderate cognitive impairment. In order to assess its role in evaluating and follow-up the cognitive functions, the data obtained during the memory game were compared with validated cognitive tests, such as the Mini Mental State Examiner (MMSE) and Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). While using the application, several features of the subjects’ cognitive performance were recorded and analyzed. Our preliminary results suggest that this computer application can be used to assess the different areas of cognitive functions. Thus, after an appropriate validation, this application and the FtP cognitive game – adapted to the characteristics of the elderly (such as applying an easy-to-use tablet or touch screen) – can be used as a brief, practical cognitive screening tool in the clinical practice or in the vulnerable population as well.
University of Pécs, Hungary