Review Article| Volume 22, ISSUE 11, P2281-2288.e5, November 2021

Effectiveness of Brain Gaming in Older Adults With Cognitive Impairments: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis



      This systematic review and meta-analysis evaluates the evidence from randomized clinical trials (RCTs) that designed brain gaming interventions to improve cognitive functions of older adults with cognitive impairments, including mild cognitive impairments and dementia.


      Systematic review and meta-analysis.

      Setting and Participants





      Data sources—relevant randomized control trials (RCTs) were identified by a systematic search of databases including Medline, PubMed, PsycINFO, Embase, CINAHL, Web of Science, and Cochrane. RCTs were selected first based on title and abstract review and then on full-text review by independent reviewers using predefined eligibility criteria. Risk of bias (RoB) was assessed using the Cochrane RoB tool and funnel plots. The primary outcome variable was the composite score of global cognitive function.


      A total of 909 participants with mild cognitive impairment or dementia from 16 RCTs were included in the systematic review. The study quality was modest, and the RoB assessment showed bias in blinding the participants and personnel. Funnel plots showed no evidence of publication bias. The meta-analysis of 14 RCTs revealed no superior effect of brain gaming compared to other interventions on global cognitive function (pooled standardized mean difference = 0.08, 95% confidence interval −0.24, 0.41, P = .61, I2 = 77%). Likewise, no superior effects were found on the cognitive domains of memory, executive function, visuospatial skills, and language.

      Conclusion and Implications

      The findings of this meta-analysis suggest that brain gaming compared with the control intervention does not show significant improvement in standardized tests of cognitive function. Because of considerable heterogeneity in sample size, gaming platform, cognitive status, study design, assessment tools, and training prescription, we cannot confidently refute the premise that brain gaming is an effective cognitive training approach for older adults with cognitive impairments. Recommendations for future research are included.


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