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SpicySweett t1_ixe8ic5 wrote

I’m usually pretty good at parsing studies, but this one has confused me. The two groups were the Body-Brain vs the Mind-Body (control), and no other significant difference between groups is mentioned except the former practiced in person while the latter used apps. Did the control group adhere to protocol and exercise their bodies and minds? Were they actually asked to sit around and do nothing?

And the study outcome was “increased attention”. Quite often similar studies have found that they’ve trained a group to perform a specific task well, but not globally increased intelligence, attention span, etc. If these older adults were trained to, say, run a specific virtual obstacle course while on a treadmill, and they were later matched up with young adults who had never seen the obstacle course, of course they will outperform them.

I’d love some input from anyone who has some insight into this study that I’ve missed.


finnoulafire t1_ixk7j3u wrote

The two groups

BBT (Body-Brain) - Trained in person on a physically interactive custom video game specifically designed to be challenging on a number of different cognitive skills, as well as physically demanding (relatively...for old people). From the paper "requires participants to perform full-body, physical movements in response to cognitive challenges that engage different cognitive control domains. As in our previous work, we integrated real-time adaptivity using closed-loop mechanics for each cognitive ability being challenged. Given the movement demands of BBT, we also implemented an adaptive physical fitness challenge by using real-time heart rate data to titrate gameplay for a personalized and integrated training experience across both cognitive and physical domains"

MBT (Mind-Body) - Trained remotely on a tablet using some combination of 3 different commercially available apps. The apps were chosen because (essentially) the researchers believed participants would expect the apps to improve their cognitive performance. Research team put in some unspecified effort to have participants journal their daily app training and to support participants rotating among all 3 apps. Specifically told them to practice sitting down (sedentary). From the study: " For those participants randomized to the MBT group, they were loaned an iPad tablet (9.7 inch screen size; 1024 × 768 screen resolution) for their training session following their ‘Pre-training’ assessment, and were instructed to train with their assigned task at home for six weeks, 5 days per week, with 30-minute training sessions per day, for a maximum of thirty 30-minute training sessions (15 hours of training total). All MBT participants were instructed to train sitting down with the tablet on a flat surface, such as a table, in a location with minimal external distraction."

>And the study outcome was “increased attention”. Quite often similar studies have found that they’ve trained a group to perform a specific task well, but not globally increased intelligence, attention span, etc

I would have to basically quote the whole methods section to explain, but the simple response is this: The goal of the study was to show their intervention had a measurably larger effect on target cognitive skills than a placebo intervention. They planned the study and the intervention based on the specific target cognitive skills of interest. It's well known that interventions need to 'train up' specific cognitive functions. In fact, they included pre- and post-testing in cognitive functions they expected to see no difference in to support their hypothesis that this intervention works the way they expected.


SpicySweett t1_ixkgy61 wrote

Thank you for this in-depth analysis! It clarifies that the control group did not (or were not specified to) exercise. Why they called it a mind-body group is beyond me; mind-only would be more apt.

As for the conclusion, it sounds like the only statistically significant result was attention (aka focus?). I’m guessing they also tested things like memory, brain speed, intelligence or navigation but didn’t see any happy additional benefits. Of course, attention itself is a boon, and the study group was healthier for the exercise. They mentioned Dance Dance Revolution, I’m curious if the study used a similar program to train the seniors.


chrisdh79 OP t1_ixdl67o wrote

From the article: A new study found promising results for a combined physical fitness and cognitive intervention designed to enhance neuroplasticity in older adults. Using a motion-capture video game, the intervention appeared to remediate age-related declines in attention. The findings were published in the journal npj Aging.

With age, cognitive abilities naturally decline. But there is some evidence that this decline can be slowed with training. For example, cognitive interventions that leverage neuroplasticity have shown potential in improving the cognitive abilities of older adults. Additionally, physical fitness interventions have been found to improve older adults’ cognitive abilities as well as their physical health. This pattern of findings suggests that an intervention that combines both cognition and fitness may offer the most cognitive benefits.

“My background is actually in Kinesiology, and I’ve always been excited to do a cognitive training study that involved exercise in a targeted fashion,” said study author Joaquin A. Anguera, the director of Neuroscape‘s Clinical Division and an associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco. “Some people want to do cognitive training while moving rather than sitting down, and that really spoke to me as a possibility for real benefits given anecdotal stories about games like ‘Dance Dance Revolution.'”

The researchers designed a randomized, placebo-controlled study to test whether the BBT intervention could improve older adults’ attention and physical fitness. First, they recruited a sample of 49 healthy older adults with an average age of 68 and randomly assigned them to one of two groups. One group (24 people) participated in the Body-Brain Trainer, an 8-week on-site intervention assisted by a trainer. The other group (25 people) was an active, expectancy-matched control group that participated in the Mind-Body Trainer, a 6-week at-home training assisted by three iOS apps.


tallerThanYouAre t1_ixggw4y wrote

It’s a pretty loose, “toe in the water” study as far as I can tell.

The study sample is small, the actual details seem to indicate older people playing with a Kinect-based game and not much more.

There is also a fair amount of excitement in the study organizers for the use of “expectancy” placebo groups, whatever that is.

Sounds like “non-impact sports” provided by electronic experiences but utilizing behavioral interaction result in cues to increase neural plasticity and increase focus - a reasonable evolutionary response to tricking the organism into believing it is still in need of active skills.

Might also point to a relationship between elderly inactivity and cognitive decline.


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Technical_Sir_9588 t1_ixhfxyu wrote

Current evidence suggest that fasting [intemittent or otherwise] with exercises will result in the same.