Sep 11, 2018

New Interactive Video Game Could Help Older Adults Strengthen Their Brains and Bodies

A smiling dolphin named Bandit is the star of an interactive video game that could help older adults strengthen their brains and bodies.

An immersive video game could help older adults maintain physical and cognitive health.


A smiling dolphin named Bandit is the star of an interactive video game that could help older adults strengthen their brains and bodies.

Michelle Carlson, PhD, MA, a professor in Mental Health, is exploring the game’s viability as a tool to exercise neural networks that control complex cognition and mobility.

Players use a remote control and arm movements to guide Bandit through increasingly challenging game levels, from catching fish to battling a shark.


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A Video Game Starring Bandit the Dolphin Aims to Strengthen Aging Brains


By Jackie Powder
Illustrations by Dung Hoang

The project, funded by the Johns Hopkins Roybal Center for Translational Research, builds on Carlson’s earlier work on the aging brain, including the Experience Corps studies,
  • which demonstrated that seniors who tutored elementary school students showed cognitive improvements in the brain regions at greatest risk for age-related degeneration.

Carlson and her team adapted the original video game, developed by the Kata design studio in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology.
“We wanted to create an environment to wash the brain in a simulated world that is fun to be in and physically, cognitively and socially enriching,” says Carlson, core faculty with the Center on Aging and Health.
  • The hope is that this brain training approach could help prevent age-related cognitive decline while enhancing older adults’ ability to navigate the real world—whether grocery store, mall or park.
“I firmly believe that we’re raising the bar on what physical and cognitive interventions could be,” says Carlson.

Rooting for Bandit


Bandit was developed as an appealing, fun character to engage players on a social level so that they want him to do well and as a way to sustain their interest in the game, which many brain games
fail to do.

On Dry Land


The game’s innovative integration of cognitive and physical challenges aims to strengthen brain networks that promote independent functioning in complex and changing real-world environments.

The Sea at Home


Looking ahead, the interactive video game platform may have a place in locations such as retirement communities and malls or in the home as a tool to help older adults maintain a healthy lifestyle and age in place.

Diving Deep


Players must continually make cognitive and physical adjustments to take Bandit through progressively difficult challenges: catching fish, using a powerful tail flip to stun a shark or executing dolphin acrobatics.

Under the Sea


The player controls Bandit with a remote in one hand and movements of the opposite arm. The game is designed to exercise the brain's executive and motor control functions in an oceanic environment.



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Citation
Jackie Powder, Alzheimer's Reading Room, 2018,
"New Interactive Video Game Could Help Older Adults Strengthen Their Brains and Bodies"
https://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/2018/09/new-interactive-video-game-could-help-older-adults-strengthen-brain-body.html