College Grants & Sponsored Programs

NIH Grant Supports Cognitive Benefits of Interactive Mental and Physical Exercise for MCI

Publication Date

Cognitive Benefits of Interactive Mental and Physical Exercise for MCI
The National Institutes of Health
Academic Research Enhancing Award (AREA) Program
National Institute on Aging
Award Amount: $329,593 | Effective Dates: 06/01/2013 – 05/31/2016 | Award ID: 1R15AG042109-01A1
Project Personnel: Principal Investigator Cay Anderson-Hanley (Psychology); Sr Personnel Kristina Striegnitz (Computer Science)
Project Summary: The rise in dementia cases has led to calls for behavioral interventions to enhance brain health to delay the onset or progression of cognitive impairment. There is growing evidence of the cognitive benefits of exercise, but less is known about combined interventions. Our primary goal is to replicate and extend our recently concluded randomized clinical trial (RCT) investigating interactive physical and mental exercise, “Cybercycling for Cognitive Health” (Anderson-Hanley et al., 2012a). This RCT was conducted by the PI and collaborators with 63 independent living older adults. We found significant cognitive benefit after three months of simultaneously combined physical and mental exercise (i.e., exergaming), when contrasted with physical exercise alone. We compared physical exercise on a traditional stationary bike, with interactive physical and mental exercise on a “cybercycle.” A cybercycle is a virtual reality-enhanced stationary bike with interactive cycling tours, on-screen competitors, and videogame capabilities. Results suggest that for the same effort, interactive physical and mental exercise on a cybercycle can yield greater cognitive benefit than physical exercise alone on a stationary bike. We wish to extend our research to persons with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), to examine the generalizability of the above finding to those already experiencing cognitive decline, with the hypothesis that cybercycling can slow decline more than either physical or mental exercise alone. We also aim to add to the scientific understanding of the phenomenon of increased cognitive benefit when physical and cognitive exercises are interactive, by comparing cybercycling with mental and physical exercise implemented individually.