Scientific of life and self-esteem after playing videogames

Scientific Background

Recent
research has shown that older adults can show improved cognitive control; this
can be done by exercising their cognitive abilities by undertaking multitasking
training (Anguera et al., 2013). Anguera (2013) found that adults who were
trained on a video game known as NeuroRacer, would show an improvement in
multitasking which could also be extended to other tasks which were involved in
cognitive processes. However, this research conducted by Anguera et al., (2013)
fails to mention the importance of wellbeing in older adults alongside the value
of an improved cognitive ability. Logdson et al., 2002 discussed how older
adults who possess cognitive impairments, have an obvious desire to improve
symptoms but also value the importance of increasing life satisfaction.  Research has shown that behavioural
interventions such as memory, reasoning and speed of processing training can
have a positive impact on cognitive ability (Ball et al., 2002). Consequently,
such interventions can affect the mental capability of self-reliant older
adults, suggesting the improvement of cognitive ability positively affects the
wellbeing of older adults (Ball et al., 2002).

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Research
has suggested that video games, such as the NeuroRacer (Anguera et al., 2013)
can be used to improve cognitive ability. Drew and Waters, 1986 have shown the use
that video games have resulted in improvements in intelligence and
co-ordination, as well as the diagnosis of cognitive impairments. Jung et al., (2009)
supported the findings concerning the use of video games to improve the
psychological aspects of an individual’s life but also showed emotional
improvements. Whitcomb, (1990) (as cited in Jung et al., 2009) found that video
games improved the processing of information, reading and capacity of memory as
well as having a positive impact on self-image.

Research
has suggested a link between cognitive ability and wellbeing, but many have not
directly linked the two. McGuire (1984) found that older adults reported
increased quality of life and self-esteem after playing videogames and showed
quicker reaction times allowing them to increase the difficulty over an 8-week
period. However, it was unclear whether it was the videogames and the cognitive
advantages it had to the participants that improved their wellbeing or
partaking in a new and therefore exciting activity, that caused this.

A
lot of research has been done on improving the wellbeing, specifically
self-image and self-esteem of youth (Rosenberg, 1989), and although research
has used measures such as the Rosenberg Self-Esteem inventory to measure
self-esteem in adults (Jung et al., 2009; Beail & Warden, 1996), there is
arguably less of an importance on the wellbeing of adults. This is clearly an
important aspect to look into as research has shown that older adults consider
their well-being an important aspect of their mental health and aging well
(Phelan et al., 2004). If cognitive ability does have a positive effect on the
wellbeing of older adults, this could be beneficial in ensuring a prosperous
aging process for older adults both psychological and emotionally, possibly
leading to cognitive training interventions to improve both cognitive ability
and wellbeing.

Aims and hypotheses

The
aim of the research is to explore whether the findings of the Anguera et al
(2013) research can be extended to the wellbeing scores of older adults and
provide a clear link between cognitive ability and wellbeing. It is also vital
to consider whether the effects that are displayed, both psychologically and
emotionally, are maintained over an extended period in order for it to be
deemed beneficial to older adults. From previous research it is hypothesised
that those who complete the cognitive training (multitasking activity) on the
NeuroRacer will show an increased cognitive ability and therefore will show an
improvement in wellbeing scores measured through the use of the Bradburn Affect
Scale, Rosenberg Self-Esteem and the UCLA Loneliness Scale. After a 6-month
duration, the wellbeing scores will be maintained in order to show that
cognitive ability truly does show an improvement in wellbeing scores.

Methods

Participants

In
alignment with the Anguera et al., (2013) experiment, participants will be
selected through volunteer sampling, recruited through advertisements posted
both online and in newspapers. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of
three conditions; either the multitasking training condition or to one of the
control groups, the single task training and control group who were not active.

Materials

Participants
will be instructed to complete the NeuroRacer task on an Apple MacBook,
replicated from the Anguera et al., (2013) experiment.

To
observe whether an increase in wellbeing is observed, participants will
complete a series of tests concerning wellbeing before they undertake the
NeuroRacer task. As done in the Jung et al., (2009) experiment, loneliness,
self-esteem and life satisfaction will be measured to assess the wellbeing of
older adults as research has shown these areas have a prominent impact on the
wellbeing of older adults. Participants will complete a twenty-item scale known
as the UCLA loneliness scale to measure loneliness in certain settings. To
measure self-esteem, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale will be used which has
been shown to be a useful tool for psychology to test self-esteem (Beail &
Warden, 1996) as well as adults with intellectual disabilities. The overall
wellbeing in adults will be measured using the Bradburn Affect Balance Scale,
made of 10 positive and negative items which focuses on questions surrounding experiences
individuals have had over ‘the past few weeks’.

 

Procedure

Participants
will be provided with a debrief and consent form which will disclose the aims,
the benefits of the study and their right withdraw. To observe whether an
increase in wellbeing is observed, participants will complete as series of
tests concerning wellbeing before they undertake the NeuroRacer task. Participants
will be instructed to play the NeuroRacer game in their homes and in a quiet
environment. The game will be played over a 4 week period, 3 times each week
and for 1 hour. Those assigned to the single task activity will be instructed
to respond to the words ‘sign only’, when a green circle appears. Those who
partake in the multitasking condition will be instructed to not only partake in
the sign task but also controlling a car, using a joystick, with the task of
ensuring the car stays in the middle of the road.

To
ensure the challenging aspect of the multitasking activity is maintained
throughout the experiment, after the task has run for a duration of 3 minutes,
the task will be modified in terms of difficulty for both the sign and drive
tasks through the use of an adaptive staircase algorithm.

After a one-month
duration, participants will be given a post training assessment as well as a 6
month follow up. This assessment will be done using the NeuroRacer EEG. A range
of tests assessing cognitive abilities will also be used to see the benefits of
the experiments in terms of extending to other cognitive abilities.
Participants will also be required to complete the wellbeing measures within
these two follow-ups.

Expected results

It
is expected that those who partake in the multitasking training will show an
enhancement in multitasking abilities and subsequent follow up will show an
increase in wellbeing than before the completed the multitasking abilities. Those
who undertake the MTT, will show a decrease in loneliness, higher scores on the
Bradburn Affect Balance Scale and higher self-esteem and also show a maintained
increase in wellbeing scores.

EEG
recordings will be done in assessments before the NeuroRacer task has been
completed and the 1 month and 6 month follow up assessments. The expected
result is that participants who undertook the multitasking training will show an
improved cognitive ability, specifically in multitasking.

It
is expected that there will benefits for tasks which involve cognitive
processes which were however, not trained. This will be tested using an
analysis of variance (3×2 mixed design), with three between subject conditions
(Multitasking training task, Single task training, non-active control) and two
within participant factors (pre-assessment vs post assessment). The expected
findings is that there will be a significant three way-interaction.