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Novel television-based cognitive training improves working memory and executive function

Scientific publication on cognitive training in healthy elderly through iTVs.

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Original Name: Novel television-based cognitive training improves working memory and executive function.

Authors: Evelyn Shatil1,2,3, Jaroslava Mikulecká3, Francesco Bellotti4 y Vladimír Bures3.

  • 1. CogniFit Inc., New York, New York, United States of America.
  • 2. Department of Psychology and the Center for Psychobiologial Research, Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel, Yezreel Valley, Israel.
  • 3. Faculty of Informatics and Management, University of Hradec Králové, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic.
  • 4. Department of Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications Engineering and Naval Architecture, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy.

Journal: Plos One (2014), vol. 9 (7): 1-8.

References to this article (APA style):

  • Shatil, E., Mikulecká, J., Bellotti, F., Bures, V. (2014). Novel television-based cognitive training improves working memory and executive function. Plos One, vol. 9 (7), pp.1-8.


CogniFit personalized cognitive training has been able to improve working memory and executive control in healthy seniors through interactive televisions.. The group that worked with CogniFit showed better performance on the DSF (F=10.09), DSR (F=10.26), DSTotal (F=14.83), TMT-B (F=4.53) and TMT-Total (F=5.05) tests.

Study Summary

The aim of the study was investigate the effect of cognitive training through interactive televisions (iTV) on the overall cognitive performance of 119 healthy older adults aged 60 to 87 years. To this end, two groups were created to which they were randomly assigned through a single-blind model: the cognitive training group or the active control group.

CogniFitexperimental group conducted cognitive training through CogniFit (adapted for iTV), while active control group participants conducted a program of non-cognitive activities through iTV.

After the training, the experimental group improved its working memory and executive functions, unlike the control group, which showed no improvement. In neither of the two groups, there was a significant difference in subjective perception of life satisfaction.

The results indicate that CogniFit can generate real benefits for users, and that iTVs can be a good alternative to computer programs when older people do not have the proper handling with computers or cannot afford one.


Diverse cognitive abilities tend to deteriorate with age. Many studies support the use of computerized cognitive training to maintain cognitive abilities in older people. Unfortunately, many older people are not familiar with resources such as the Internet and computers, although they are familiar with television use.

Interactive televisions (iTV) provide the possibility of performing activities such as cognitive training through a more familiar and comfortable environment for the elderly than the computer.



Study participants (over 60 to 87 years old) were contacted by announcements and invitations. They were told that they would participate in activities to improve their cognitive status and signed the consent form. Participants who scored 27 on the MMSE or had corrected vision less than 20/40 were excluded. Although the researchers knew which participant belonged to which group, the participants themselves did not know which group they belonged to. Demographic, cognitive and life satisfaction data were also taken into account to match groups.


The intervention programs of both groups were adapted to be compatible with the iTVs. The training lasted 8 weeks, with three weekly sessions of 20 minutes each. Each session consisted of three different activities. A traditional cognitive assessment was conducted before and after training. Finally, intra-group and inter-group comparisons were made with pretest and posttest data.

Once we have completed the data collection from the study, we will be able to download the results of each participant to our computer for analysis.

Intervention in the active control group

Participants in the control group were given three non-cognitive applications at the same time. The applications consisted of:

  • Recomposing family stories through relevant milestones in life, such as weddings, births or trips.
  • Digitize personal photographs to create a family tree.
  • Physical exercises based on "Mind Jogging."

Pre y Post Assessments

To measure the baseline (pretest) and cognitive status after interventions (postest), participants were given a series of tests and questionnaires:

  • TONI-3 (Test of non-verbal intelligence, third edition), which measures non-verbal intelligence.
  • TMT (Trail Making Test) part A and part B, which measures executive functions, among other capabilities.
  • DS (Digit Span) direct (DSF) and indirect (DSR), which measures working memory.
  • World Health Organization Well-being index, which is used to detect depression, and gives a subjective score about physical and psychological well-being.
  • A scale about usability of the iTV (iTV system usability).

Statistical Analysis

SPSS 17.0 was used to analyze the data. To determine the previous demographic and personal differences between the two groups, T-tests for independent samples and Chi-Square tests were applied. To measure cognitive differences between groups, a mixed-effects model of repeated measures was performed, with a separate model for each variable. All this made it possible to measure:

  • The initial differences between the two groups.
  • The differences between the Pretest and the Postest in each group.
  • The differences between both groups.

Results and conclusions

Analyses of the results showed that the groups were initially comparable. The experimental group showed a statistically significant improvement in working memory and executive control after training with CogniFit. In addition, when comparing the changes from pretest to postest of the experimental group with respect to the control group, the group that worked with CogniFit showed better performance in the DSF tests (F=10.09), DSR (F=10.26), DSTotal (F=14.83), TMT-B (F=4.53) and TMT-Total (F=5.05).

Therefore, it could be observed that the experimental group that conducted personalized cognitive training withCogniFit improved their working memory and executive control. In addition, the presentation format of the training (iTV) seems to be a good alternative for training older people. In this way, the data shows that cognitive training performed through an iTV is feasible and comfortable for this population. This can have great social implications, as we can expand the number of people who can benefit from cognitive training, with the important implications this can have.

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