Centre de recherches sur la cognition et l’apprentissage, Université François Rabelais de Tours, Université de Poitiers, UMR-CNRS 7295, France
The aim of this study was to compare two methods of cognitive stimulation for the cognitive functions. The first method used an usual approach, the second used leisure activities in order to assess their benefits on cognitive functions (speed of processing; working memory capacity and executive functions) and psychoaffective measures (memory span and self esteem). 67 participants over 60 years old took part in the experiment. They were divided into three groups: 1 group followed a program of conventional cognitive stimulation, 1 group a program of cognitive stimulation using leisure activities and 1 control group. The different measures have been evaluated before and after the training program. Results show that the cognitive stimulation program using leisure activities is as effective on memory span, updating and memory self-perception as the program using conventional cognitive stimulation, and more effective on self-esteem than the conventional program. There is no difference between the two stimulated groups and the control group on speed of processing. Neither of the two cognitive stimulation programs provides a benefit over shifting and inhibition. These results indicate that it seems to be possible to enhance working memory and to observe far transfer benefits over self-perception (self-esteem and memory self-perception) when using leisure activities as a tool for cognitive stimulation.