Cognitive Training Game Versus Action Videogame: Effects on Cognitive Functions in Older Adults

Games Health J. 2019 Feb;8(1):35-40. doi: 10.1089/g4h.2018.0010. Epub 2018 Oct 30.


Objective: The purpose of the study was to compare a cognitive training game, Kawashima Brain Training (KBT), and an action videogame, Super Mario Bros (SMB), in their effects on cognitive function in older adults.

Materials and methods: Thirty-six older adults were randomly assigned to the KBT group, the SMB group, or the no-training no-contact control group. All participants completed several cognitive tests [matrix reasoning, Stroop, Trail Making Test, digit symbol substitution test (DSST), Corsi clock, spatial relation, and number comparison]. Then, participants in the game groups were instructed to play the videogame (KBT or SMB) for 1 hour, thrice per week, during 2 months, for a total training time of 24 hours. When the twenty-four 1-hour game sessions were complete, the three groups again completed the cognitive tests.

Results: Analysis of variances on each of the cognitive measures and Tukey's post hoc tests showed that the matrix reasoning change score was significantly greater in both game groups than in the control group. The Stroop test change was significantly greater in the KBT group than in control and SMB groups. The DSST, Corsi block test, spatial relations test, and number comparison test showed significantly greater change in the SMB group than in the control group with KBT intermediate.

Conclusion: The scope of benefits of SMB training seems broader than those from the KBT program. The intrinsic characteristics of SMB and KBT games may well be partly responsible for these differences.

Keywords: Action videogame; Aging; Cognitive functions; Cognitive training game.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Video Games / psychology*
  • Virtual Reality*