Posted on Aug 06, 2014, 6 a.m.
Seniors who spend 15 hours a week using a tablet-style computer demonstrate enhanced cognitive skills.
Lightweight and portable, with a user-friendly interface and hundreds of available applications, tablet-style computers may help older adults to improve memory and thinking skills. Micaela Chan, from The University of Texas at Dallas (Texas, USA), and colleagues enrolled 54 men and women, ages 60 to 90 years, for a three-month long study in which one-third of the participants were placed in a group assigned to use a tablet-style computer (they were given extensive training), spending an average of more than 15 hours a week on the device for 10 weeks. Concurrently, the team assigned a placebo group that completed activities of low-cognitive demand and no skill acquisition, such as watching movies and completing knowledge-based word puzzles; and a social group, which socialized for 15 or more hours a week, primarily around prescribed conversational topics such as travel, art and history. All three groups were given the same cognitive tests before and after the 10 weeks of activities. When the scores on these assessment tests were compared, the researchers found that the group using tablet-style computers experienced significant improvements in episodic memory and processing speed. Reporting that: “[table-style computer] training improved cognition relative to engaging in social or nonchallenging activities,” the study authors submit that: “Mastering relevant technological devices have the added advantage of providing older adults with technological skills useful in facilitating everyday activities (e.g., banking).”
Chan MY, Haber S, Drew LM, Park DC. “Training Older Adults to Use Tablet Computers: Does It Enhance Cognitive Function?” Gerontologist. 2014 Jun 13. pii: gnu057.