ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research

Bern serious games for cognitive enhancement

Project Members: Ioannis Tarnanas, Vanessa Vallejo, Andrei V Mitache, Urs P Mosimann, René Müri, Tobias Nef
Project Duration: 2013-2017

Besides better understanding the influence of cognitive impairments on mobility and traffic participation, we also aim to develop new means to improve and maintain cognitive performance and prevent cognitive decline as long as possible. In collaboration with other European and Swiss researchers, we develop home-based cognitive and physical training based on both innovative gaming platforms (e.g. Wii and Kinect) and specifically developed serious games. Immersive “game-like” environments, also known as Serious Games, where participants use an “in-world” representation, an avatar, to engage in a variety of activities in a shared space, could play a promising role in seniors’ lives, as  entertainment as well as therapeutic value (McCallum, 2012; Wiemeyer & Kliem, 2012; Tarnanas et al, 2013). The theme of the Serious Games can be adapted, depending on cultural characteristics or according to the cognitive deficits of the user. The fundamental processes of cognitive training are repeating specific procedures and providing personalized guidance to seniors. Providing immediate feedback and adaptive interventions during the training could enhance the performance of the patient; lead to better results, and strengthen further the motivation of the patient to perform better, which has been proven for the real-life transfer of cognitive training and the reduction of the disease’s deterioration.

To this direction, the goal of this project scope is to develop novel Serious Games, which can improve, maintain, or restore mental functions. We will place a special focus on adaptive difficulty levels, allowing error-free learning that is expected to increase motivation, fun, and self-confidence.

Keywords: Serious games, dementia, activities of daily living


Tarnanas, Ioannis; Schlee, Winfried; Tsolaki, Magda; Müri, René Martin; Mosimann, Urs Peter; Nef, Tobias (2013). Ecological validity of virtual reality daily living activities screening for early dementia: longitudinal study. JMIR Serious Games, 1(1), e1. JMIR Publications10.2196/games.2778

Tarnanas, Ioannis; Tsolaki, Magda; Nef, Tobias; Müri, René Martin; Mosimann, Urs Peter (2014).Can a novel computerized cognitive screening test provide additional information for early detection of Alzheimer's disease? Alzheimer's and dementia, 10(6), pp. 790-798. Elsevier10.1016/j.jalz.2014.01.002

Vallejo, Vanessa; Tarnanas, Ioannis; Yamaguchi, T; Tsukagoshi, T; Yasuda, R; Müri, René Martin; Mosimann, Urs Peter; Nef, Tobias (2015). Usability assessment of natural user interfaces during serious games: Adjustments for dementia intervention. Journal of Pain Management, 9(3), pp. 333-339. Nova Science

Tarnanas, Ioannis; Laskaris, Nikos; Tsolaki, Magda; Müri, René Martin; Nef, Tobias; Mosimann, Urs P. (2015). On the comparison of a novel serious game and electroencephalography biomarkers for early dementia screening. In: Vlamos, Panayiotis; Alexiou, Athanasios (eds.) GeNeDis 2014 - Geriatrics. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology: Vol. 821 (pp. 63-77). Cham: Springer 10.1007/978-3-319-08939-3_11

Vallejo, Vanessa; Mitache, Vladimir Andrei; Tarnanas, Ioannis; Müri, René Martin; Mosimann, Urs Peter; Nef, Tobias (August 2015). Combining qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze serious games outcomes: A pilot study for a new cognitive screening tool. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society conference proceedings, pp. 1327-1330. IEEE Service Center 10.1109/EMBC.2015.7318613

Vallejo, Vanessa; Wyss, Patric; Chesham, Alvin; Mitache, Vladimir Andrei; Müri, René Martin; Mosimann, Urs Peter; Nef, Tobias (2017). Evaluation of a new serious game based multitasking assessment tool for cognition and activities of daily living: Comparison with a real cooking task.Computers in human behavior, 70, pp. 500-506. Elsevier 10.1016/j.chb.2017.01.021

Vallejo, Vanessa; Wyss, Patric; Rampa, Luca; Mitache, Vladimir Andrei; Müri, René Martin; Mosimann, Urs Peter; Nef, Tobias (2017). Evaluation of a novel Serious Game based assessment tool for patients with Alzheimer's disease. PLoS ONE, 12(5), pp. 1-14. Public Library of Science10.1371/journal.pone.0175999