Thesis

Immediate Effects of Exergames on Executive Function

Three components of executive function (EF) include shifting, updating working memory, and inhibition. EF is important in academic and work settings, as well as everyday activities. Among other training programs, video games have been shown to enhance executive function. Exergames are a newly emerging genre of video games that incorporate gross motor movements of the upper and lower body to play the video game. Exergames consist of two components that are required to interact with the game: cognitive engagement and physical activity. Cognitive engagement alone, as seen in standard video games, as well as physical exercise alone have been shown to increase EF. This study examined how cognitive engagement and physical activity interact within exergames to affect the three components of EF: shifting, updating, and inhibition. Using a 2 X 2 within-subjects design, participants played four games, each with a different combination of physical activity and cognitive engagement, and were tested in the three areas of EF. The results showed that neither cognitive engagement nor physical activity enhanced shifting. Low physical activity exergames led to marginally better updating ability than high physical activity exergames. High cognitive engagement exergames led to better accuracy on the inhibition measure than low cognitive engagement exergames, and there was an interaction between cognitive engagement and physical activity on inhibition. Implications for future use of video games as cognitive training interventions are discussed.

Three components of executive function (EF) include shifting, updating working memory, and inhibition. EF is important in academic and work settings, as well as everyday activities. Among other training programs, video games have been shown to enhance executive function. Exergames are a newly emerging genre of video games that incorporate gross motor movements of the upper and lower body to play the video game. Exergames consist of two components that are required to interact with the game: cognitive engagement and physical activity. Cognitive engagement alone, as seen in standard video games, as well as physical exercise alone have been shown to increase EF. This study examined how cognitive engagement and physical activity interact within exergames to affect the three components of EF: shifting, updating, and inhibition. Using a 2 X 2 within-subjects design, participants played four games, each with a different combination of physical activity and cognitive engagement, and were tested in the three areas of EF. The results showed that neither cognitive engagement nor physical activity enhanced shifting. Low physical activity exergames led to marginally better updating ability than high physical activity exergames. High cognitive engagement exergames led to better accuracy on the inhibition measure than low cognitive engagement exergames, and there was an interaction between cognitive engagement and physical activity on inhibition. Implications for future use of video games as cognitive training interventions are discussed.

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