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History of Playing Video Games is Associated with Better Neuropsychological Performance in People with Multiple Sclerosis

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Abstract

Engaging in cognitively stimulating activities such as playing video games consistently over a sustained period of time may confer cognitive benefits. However, it is not currently understood if playing video games regularly over the lifespan may promote resiliency to cognitive decline in neurodegenerative disorders, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In the present study, we investigated the association between the history of playing video games and neuropsychological performance in people with MS (PwMS). A total of 42 PwMS completed neuropsychological tests primarily from the Minimal Assessment of Cognitive Functioning in MS (MACFIMS) battery. Study participants also estimated how many hours of video games they played per week over their adult life. Linear regression analyses indicated that greater estimated hours playing video games was significantly associated with better performance on an index of global cognitive performance, the Delis-Kaplan Executive Functioning System Card Sorting test score, and the learning trials of the California Verbal Learning Test (second edition) and the Brief Visuospatial Memory Test (Revised). These relationships were significant while controlling for age, disease duration, and estimated premorbid IQ. Secondary analyses revealed that video game playing was also a better predictor of visuospatial learning, short-term memory, and executive functioning performance than other variables that have also previously been associated with the accumulation of cognitive reserve. The findings suggest that playing video games consistently through adulthood is associated with better cognitive outcomes in PwMS, particularly in the domains of new learning and executive functioning.

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The data reported in this manuscript will be provided to other researchers upon request.

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Funding

The research was funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (grant #RG-1607-25467).

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

Thomas Covey: Study conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis, study resources, data curation, writing of original draft, review and editing, visualization of study data, study supervision, project administration, and funding acquisition; Janet Shucard: Study conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis, study resources, data curation, writing of original draft, review and editing, study supervision, project administration, and funding acquisition; Elizabeth Bukoskey: methodology, formal analysis, data curation, review and editing; David Shucard: Study conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis, study resources, data curation, writing of original draft, review and editing, study supervision, project administration, and funding acquisition.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Thomas J. Covey.

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Ethical Approval

All study procedures were approved by the University at Buffalo Institutional Review Board and in accordance with the standards of the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki. All human subjects provided informed consent prior to participating in the study.

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The authors have no other relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose.

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Covey, T.J., Shucard, J.L., Bukoskey, E. et al. History of Playing Video Games is Associated with Better Neuropsychological Performance in People with Multiple Sclerosis. J Cogn Enhanc 8, 107–117 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41465-024-00291-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s41465-024-00291-4

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