Let's play cards: Multi-component cognitive training with social engagement enhances executive control in older adults

Chun Yu Kuo, Yang Ming Huang, Yei Yu Yeh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Cognitive training and social engagement are two of the routes that potentially improve cognitive functions in older adults. The former targets specific functions so that an intervention can trigger the plasticity and efficiency of the underpinning neural systems, and the latter also provides an environment supportive of social and emotional needs. We investigated whether an integration of the two routes could enhance cognitive functions related to executive control, because no prior research has adopted a theory-driven approach to design a group-based cognitive training program for executive control. Forty-six healthy and active older adults living in community settings were randomly assigned to a group-based training program or a group-based active control program. Twenty-three volunteers in a community center were recruited for the waitlist control group. A battery of card games was designed for the cognitive training program based on three theoretical models of executive functions. A set of commercial board games were run in the active control program. Using untrained tests as the outcome measures, we found significant improvement on executive control in the cognitive training group compared with the active and waitlist control groups while the two control groups did not differ in performance. The cognitive training group did not outperform the two groups on a test of reasoning or on a test of delayed episodic memory. The results support the idea that cognitive training with social interaction can improve performance on untrained tests that share overlapping cognitive processes. Despite the inability to adapt to each person's performance, integrating the two routes is beneficial for improving cognitive functions in older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2482
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberDEC
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 6


  • Cognitive control
  • Cognitive training
  • Executive function
  • Healthy older adults
  • Social engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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