The effect of virtual reality on executive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Dan Yu, Xun Li, Frank Lai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives
This review aimed to summarize the currently available premium evidence to determine the effect of virtual reality (VR) on executive function (EF) in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and to detect what level of immersive VR would be the most beneficial.

Method
Five electronic databases, namely, PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library were searched. Our research team screened the studies and extracted data according to our inclusion criteria. The methodological quality of each study was rated using the PEDro scale. When three or more studies reported the same outcome, a meta-analysis was conducted using Review Manager 5.4.1.

Results
Finally, 14 randomized controlled trials with a total of 518 participants were included. VR training had an overall positive effect on cognitive flexibility, global cognitive function, attention, and short-term memory compared to the control groups. Additionally, semi-immersive VR was more effective in improving cognitive flexibility compared to the other two types of VR. The application of non-immersive level of VR had a significant effect on global cognitive function, attention, short-term memory, and cognitive flexibility.

Conclusion
VR may be effective in improving EF in older adults with MCI. However, the level of immersive VR that would be the most beneficial on EF still needs to be investigated with a greater number of well-designed studies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalAging and Mental Health
Early online date30 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 May 2022

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