1.04.2012

Study: Bingo Enhances Cognitive Performance in Alzheimers Subjects
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Bingo, a popular activity in nursing homes, senior centers and assisted-living facilities, has benefits that extend well beyond socializing. Researchers found high-contrast, large bingo cards boost thinking and playing skills for people with cognitive difficulties and visual perception problems produced by Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD).

"The general finding of improved performance across healthy and afflicted groups suggests the value of visual support as an easy-to-apply intervention to enhance cognitive performance," researchers from Case Western Reserve University, Boston University and Bridgewater State University wrote.

The findings were reported in the article, "Bingo! Externally supported performance intervention for deficit visual search in normal aging, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease," in the journal Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition.

As people age, they begin to lose sensitivity to perceive contrasts. It is exacerbated in people with dementia, according to Grover C. Gilmore, a psychologist and dean of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University.

Bingo is often used in nursing homes and senior centers as a social activity, and being socially engaged helps keep the mind healthy.

But little is known about how visual perception problems-common in aging players-affect the way these people think and play, said Gilmore, who has done extensive testing in his Perception Lab at Case Western Reserve.

Researchers tested cards of different sizes, contrasts and visual complexities to find out how visual perception problems impact cognitive functions among the study's participants: 19 younger adults, 14 individuals with probable AD, 13 AD-matched healthy adults, 17 non-demented individuals with Parkinson's disease and 20 PD-matched healthy adults.

When study participants played bingo on computer-generated cards that were manipulated for brightness, size and contrast, the researchers could compare the performance among the different age and health groups.

With some contrast and size changes to the card, researchers reported improvement in performances. For those with mild dementia, they could perform at levels of their healthy peers. Little change was reported for people with more severe dementia.

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