Dementia Games: A Literature Review of Dementia-Related Serious Games

  • Simon McCallum
  • Costas Boletsis
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8101)


Serious games find wide application in the health domain, occupying their own place in the video game industry (games for health). Currently, there is a proliferation of cognitive training, exercise and social games, targeting one of the most dangerous disease of the era: dementia, as well as its various symptoms and stages like Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the dementia-related gaming field is still uncharted. In this literature review, we list studies on serious games related to dementia, that are supported by evaluation tests on dementia, MCI and AD patients with published, peer-reviewed results. This review discusses the effects that games, which include Wii Fit, Wii Sports, Big Brain Academy, Lumosity, SmartBrain Games, MasterQuiz, MINDs et al., have on dementia-related conditions. The review leads us to the conclusions that, firstly, even though many games were developed for entertainment purposes, they are being used for health reasons (usually after technical or conceptual modification), acquiring the characteristics of serious games and, secondly, dementia games do have an effect on cognitive impaired people. If that effect is longlasting and/or transferable to the daily activities is a matter of further scientific investigation.


Alzheimer’s disease dementia literature review mild cognitive impairment serious games 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Alzheimer’s Disease International: Dementia statistics, (last visited: April 5, 2013)
  2. 2.
    Barnes, D., Yaffe, K., Belfor, N., Jagust, W., DeCarli, C., Reed, B., Kramer, J.: Computer-based cognitive training for mild cognitive impairment: Results from a pilot randomized, controlled trial. Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders 23, 205–210 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bayo-Monton, J.L., Fernandez-Llatas, C., Garca-Gomez, J.M., Traver, V.: Serious games for dementia illness detection and motivation: The emotiva experience. In: 3rd Workshop on Technology for Healthcare and Healthy Lifestyle (2011)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Benveniste, S., Jouvelot, P., Péquignot, R.: The mINWii project: Renarcissization of patients suffering from alzheimer’s disease through video game-based music therapy. In: Yang, H.S., Malaka, R., Hoshino, J., Han, J.H. (eds.) ICEC 2010. LNCS, vol. 6243, pp. 79–90. Springer, Heidelberg (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bouchard, B., Imbeault, F., Bouzouane, A., Menelas, B.-A.J.: Developing serious games specifically adapted to people suffering from alzheimer. In: Ma, M., Oliveira, M.F., Hauge, J.B., Duin, H., Thoben, K.-D. (eds.) SGDA 2012. LNCS, vol. 7528, pp. 243–254. Springer, Heidelberg (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Boulay, M., Benveniste, S., Boespflug, S., Jouvelot, P., Rigaud, A.S.: A pilot usability study of MINWii, a music therapy game for demented patients. Technology & Health Care 19(4), 233–246 (2011)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Breton, Z., Zapirain, S., Zorrilla, A.: Kimentia: Kinect based tool to help cognitive stimulation for individuals with dementia. In: 2012 IEEE 14th International Conference on e-Health Networking, Applications and Services, Healthcom 2012, pp. 325–328. IEEE Computer Society (2012)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Busse, A., Angermeyer, M.C., Riedel-Heller, S.G.: Progression of mild cognitive impairment to dementia: a challenge to current thinking. The British Journal of Psychiatry 189(5), 399–404 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Calzon, A.B.S., Fernandez-Llatas, C., Naranjo, J.C., Meneu, T.: Personalized motivation in dementia management through detection of behavior patterns. In: The Fourth International Conference on eHealth, Telemedicine, and Social Medicine, eTELEMED 2012, pp. 203–208. Xpert Publishing Services (2012)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Chiu, M.J., Chen, T.F., Yip, P.K., Hua, M.S., Tang, L.Y.: Behavioral and psychologic symptoms in different types of dementia. Journal of the Formosan Medical Association 105(7), 556–562 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cleverley, M., Walker, Z., Dannhauser, T.: Engaging patients at high risk of dementia in multimodal cognitive health promoting activities: The thinkingfit study. Alzheimer’s & Dementia 8, P220–P221 (2012)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Complete Brain Workout: Oak Games PC and Facebook Developers, (last visited: April 5, 2013)
  13. 13.
    Fenney, A., Lee, T.D.: Exploring spared capacity in persons with dementia: What wii can learn. Activities, Adaptation & Aging 34(4), 303–313 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Fernández-Calvo, B., Rodríguez-Pérez, R., Contador, I., Rubio-Santorum, A., Ramos, F.: Efficacy of cognitive training programs based on new software technologies in patients with Alzheimer- Type dementia. Psicothema 23(1), 44–50 (2011)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Finn, M., McDonald, S.: Computerised cognitive training for older persons with mild cognitive impairment: A pilot study using a randomised controlled trial design. Brain Impairment 12(3), 187–199 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Friedland, R.P., Budinger, T.F., Ganz, E., Yano, Y., Mathis, C.A., Koss, B., Ober, B.A., Huesman, R.H., Derenzo, S.E.: Regional cerebral metabolic alterations in dementia of the alzheimer type: positron emission tomography with [18f]fluorodeoxyglucose. Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography 7(4), 590–598 (1983)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Gamberini, L., Martino, F., Seraglia, B., Spagnolli, A., Fabregat, M., Ibanez, F., Alcaniz, M., Andrés, J.M.: Eldergames project: an innovative mixed reality table-top solution to preserve cognitive functions in elderly people. In: Proceedings of the 2nd Conference on Human System Interactions, HSI 2009, pp. 161–166. IEEE Press (2009)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Green, C.S., Bavelier, D.: The cognitive neuroscience of video games. In: Digital Media: Transformations in Human Communication. Peter Lang. Publishing (2006)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Gregor, P., Newell, A.F., Zajicek, M.: Designing for dynamic diversity: interfaces for older people. In: Proceedings of the Fifth International ACM Conference on Assistive Technologies, ASSETS 2002, pp. 151–156 (2002)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Heller, R., Jorge, J., Guedj, R.: Ec/nsf workshop on universal accessibility of ubiquitous computing: providing for the elderly event report. In: Proceedings of the 2001 EC/NSF Workshop on Universal Accessibility of Ubiquitous Computing: Providing for the Elderly, WUAUC 2001, pp. 1–10. ACM (2001)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Imbeault, F., Bouchard, B., Bouzouane, A.: Serious games in cognitive training for alzheimer’s patients. In: Proceedings of the 2011 IEEE 1st International Conference on Serious Games and Applications for Health, SEGAH 2011, pp. 1–8. IEEE Computer Society (2011)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Into D’mentia:, (last visited: April 5, 2013)
  23. 23.
    Karp, A., Paillard-Borg, S., Hui-Xin, W., Silverstein, M., Winblad, B., Fratiglioni, L.: Mental, physical and social components in leisure activities equally contribute to decrease dementia risk. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders 21(2), 65–73 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kawashima, R., Okita, K., Yamazaki, R., Tajima, N., Yoshida, H., Taira, M., Iwata, K., Sasaki, T., Maeyama, K., Usui, N., Sugimoto, K.: Reading aloud and arithmetic calculation improve frontal function of people with dementia. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 60(3), 380–384 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Keyani, P., Hsieh, G., Mutlu, B., Easterday, M., Forlizzi, J.: Dancealong: supporting positive social exchange and exercise for the elderly through dance. In: CHI 2005 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI EA 2005, pp. 1541–1544. ACM (2005)Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Kramer, A.F., Erickson, K.I.: Capitalizing on cortical plasticity: influence of physical activity on cognition and brain function. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 11(8), 342–348 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Lager, A., Bremberg, S.: Health Effects of Video and Computer Game Playing - A Systematic Review of Scientific Studies. National Swedish Public Health Institute (2005)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Legouverneur, G., Pino, M., Boulay, M., Rigaud, A.: Wii sports, a usability study with MCI and Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association 7, S500–S501 (2011)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Lumosity: Brain Games & Brain Training, (last visited: April 4, 2013)
  30. 30.
    Mahncke, H.W., Connor, B.B., Appelman, J., Ahsanuddin, O.N., Hardy, J.L., Wood, R.A., Joyce, N.M., Boniske, T., Atkins, S.M., Merzenich, M.M.: Memory enhancement in healthy older adults using a brain plasticity-based training program: a randomized, controlled study. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103(33), 12523–12528 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    McCallum, S.: Gamification and serious games for personalized health. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics 177, 85–96 (2012)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Mellecker, R.R., Coshott, R.: Perspectives on exergaming. International Journal of Computer Science in Sport 10, 93–95 (2011)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Mikkonen, M., Väyrynen, S., Ikonen, V., Heikkilä, M.O.: User and concept studies as tools in developing mobile communication services for the elderly. Personal Ubiquitous Computing 6(2), 113–124 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Mirra, S.S., N., H.M., Terry, R.D.: Making the diagnosis of alzheimer’s disease. a primer for practicing pathologists. Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 117(2), 132–144 (1993)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Morris, J.C., Storandt, M., Miller, J., McKeel, D.W., Price, J.L., Rubin, E.H., Berg, L.: Mild cognitive impairment represents early-stage alzheimer disease. Archives of Neurology 58(3), 397–405 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Morris, J.C., Price, J.L.: Pathologic correlates of nondemented aging, mild cognitive impairment, and early-stage alzheimers disease. Journal of Molecular Neuroscience 17, 101–118 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37. Big Brain Academy - Game Info, (last visited: April 4 2013)
  38. 38. Brain Age - Game Info, (last visited: April 5, 2013)
  39. 39. Wii Sports - Game Info, (last visited: April 4, 2013)
  40. 40. WiiFit - Game Info, (last visited: April 4 2013)
  41. 41.
    Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services: Dementia Plan 2015: making the most of good days. Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services (2007)Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Padala, K.P., Padala, P.R., Malloy, T.R., Geske, J.A., Dubbert, P.M., Dennis, R.A., Garner, K.K., Bopp, M.M., Burke, W.J., Sullivan, D.H.: Wii-fit for improving gait and balance in an assisted living facility: A pilot study. Journal of Aging Research, 1–6 (2012)Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Posit Science: Brain Training Software, Brain Fitness, Brain Games, BrainHQ, (last visited: April 4, 2013)
  44. 44.
    Pozueta, A., Rodrguez-Rodrguez, E., Vazquez-Higuera, J., Mateo, I., Snchez-Juan, P., Gonzlez-Perez, S., Berciano, J., Combarros, O.: Detection of early alzheimer’s disease in mci patients by the combination of mmse and an episodic memory test. BMC Neurology 11, 1–5 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Roenker, D.L., Cissell, G.M., Ball, K.K., Wadley, V.G., Edwards, J.D.: Speed-of-processing and driving simulator training result in improved driving performance. Hum Factors 45(2), 218–233 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Rosen, A.C., Sugiura, L., Kramer, J.H., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., Gabrieli, J.D.: Cognitive training changes hippocampal function in mild cognitive impairment: a pilot study. Journal of Alzheimers Disease 26, 349–357 (2011)Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Smartbrain Games: Smartbrain Games, (last visited: April 5, 2013)
  48. 48.
    Stavros, Z., Fotini, K., Magda, T.: Computer based cognitive training for patients with mild cognitive impairment (mci). In: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on PErvasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments, PETRA 2010, pp. 21:1–21:3. ACM (2010)Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Tarraga, L., Boada, M., Modinos, G., Espinosa, A., Diego, S., Morera, A., Guitart, M., Balcells, J., Lopez, O.L., Becker, J.T.: A randomised pilot study to assess the efficacy of an interactive, multimedia tool of cognitive stimulation in alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 77(10), 1116–1121 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Tobiasson, H.: Physical action gaming and fun as a tool within elderly care: Game over or play it again and again. In: Proceedings of the International Ergonomics Association 2009 Conference, IEA 2009 (2009)Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Weybright, E., Dattilo, J., Rusch, F.: Effects of an interactive video game (Nintendo Wii) on older women with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Therapeutic Recreation Journal 44(4), 271–287 (2010)Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Willis, S.L., Tennstedt, S.L., Marsiske, M., Ball, K., Elias, J., Koepke, K.M.M., Morris, J.N., Rebok, G.W., Unverzagt, F.W., Stoddard, A.M., Wright, E.: ACTIVE Study Group: Long-term effects of cognitive training on everyday functional outcomes in older adults. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 296(23), 2805–2814 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Yamaguchi, H., Maki, Y., Takahashi, K.: Rehabilitation for dementia using enjoyable video-sports games. International Psychogeriatrics 23, 674–676 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon McCallum
    • 1
  • Costas Boletsis
    • 1
  1. 1.Gjøvik University CollegeGjøvikNorway

Personalised recommendations