Can physical and cognitive training based on episodic memory be combined in a new protocol for daily training?

Abstract

Background

Cognitive training (CT) is defined as guided practice on a set of standard tasks designed to stimulate particular cognitive functions. Recent studies have shown that physical exercise is beneficial for cognitive activity in older adults and patients with degenerative diseases.

Aims

The main objective of the present study is to create a new cognitive tool able to provide training for cognitive functions that take advantage of the physical activity involved in the execution of the task. A study concerning the application of a new CT tool for episodic memory is presented and divided in two parts. The first one aims at developing a new sensorized device, called SmartTapestry, for physical and cognitive training. The second part aims at understanding its technical viability and level of sensitivity in stimulating the same cognitive domain covered by the standardized tests, despite the introduction of the physical activity variable.

Methods

The SmartTapestry device was tested with a total of 53 subjects, 29 healthy subjects and 24 subjects suffering from mild cognitive impairment.

Results and discussions

The results show a good correlation between the two approaches (p < 0.005), suggesting that SmartTapestry can stimulate the same cognitive functions of traditional cognitive tasks, with the addition of physical exercise.

Conclusions

The results of this study may be useful in designing ecological and combined cognitive-physical tools, which can be used daily at home, reducing the presence of clinical staff, to train at the same time the brain and the body so as to improve the cognitive treatments efficacy.

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Abbreviations

CT:

Cognitive training

MCI:

Mild cognitive impairment

VPA:

Verbal paired associated

WMS-IV:

Wechsler Memory Scale-Fourth Edition

ROM:

Range of motion

TCT:

Traditional cognitive tasks

SUS:

System usability scale

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Acknowledgements

This research has been supported by TIM S.p.A., Services Innovation Department—Joint Open Lab initiative. The authors thank Ms. Irene Mannari for her precious contributions in the mechanical realization of the system prototype, and also thank the clinical team (Ilenia Natola, Luca Tommasini, Cristiana Parrini, Chiara Rossi, Stefania Tocchini) of Laboratory of Neuropsychology of Pontedera (USL nordovest Toscana) for their clinical support during the protocol definition and during the experimentation phase.

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Correspondence to Martina Maselli.

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The study design and protocol, including subject privacy and sensitive data treatment, were approved by the Ethics Committee of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Maselli, M., Fiorini, L., Cecchi, F. et al. Can physical and cognitive training based on episodic memory be combined in a new protocol for daily training?. Aging Clin Exp Res 31, 1615–1623 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-018-1107-6

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Keywords

  • Combined cognitive-motor exercise
  • Elderly
  • Sensorized cognitive tool
  • SmartTapestry tool