Volume 24, Issue 2 (summer 2022)                   Advances in Cognitive Sciences 2022, 24(2): 13-28 | Back to browse issues page


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Banari N, Entezari Khorasani Z, Balali M. The effect of training schedule and attentional focus instructions on executive function in the elderly. Advances in Cognitive Sciences. 2022; 24 (2) :13-28
URL: http://icssjournal.ir/article-1-1417-en.html
1- PhD Student in Motor Learning, Islamic Azad University Central Tehran, Tehran, Iran
2- Assistant Professor of Motor Behavior, Islamic Azad University Central Tehran, Tehran, Iran
Abstract:   (263 Views)
Introduction
Aging refers to people over 60 years of age in terms of developmental and functional processes and causes negative changes in various body systems. One of these fundamental changes is a reduction in cognitive or executive functions. Executive functions are brain-based skills needed to perform purposeful behaviors successfully. The vast majority of related studies have suggested that physical activity and motor interventions are factors that greatly enhance cognitive function. Several researchers have researched executive functions and practice, which differs from this research in several ways. The main focus of this research has been on extensive exercises with different skills (e.g., basketball andtennis) without the goal of motor learning (or without focusing on motor learning variables). However, some research has examined the effect of learning variables on the executive or cognitive functions, which are different from our society and the purpose of the current research. Therefore, this studyaimed to investigate the effect of training schedule and attentional focus on the executive functions of the elderly.
Methods
The method of the present study is semi-experimental with a pretest-posttest design with a control group. In terms of purpose, this research is in the category of applied research. The statistical population of the present study included older people in Ahvaz with an age range of 60-80 years. For this purpose, 60 people were selected by voluntary and self-determination sampling methods. After obtaining their consent, they were randomly assigned to one of four groups (external attention + variable training, external attention + constant training, internal attention+ variable training, internal attention + constant training). All steps of the present study were carried out under the supervision of the Research Ethics Committee of the Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch, Tehran, Iran, following the basic principles of the Helsinki Declaration (1964). The primary tool used in this research is the purpose of darts designed to be used in darts throwing training intervention. Wisconsin and Stroop tests were used to assess executive functions in the elderly. After selecting the research groups, the participants completed a pre-test of executive functions (Stroop and Wisconsin tests). The individuals then completed a dart-throwing training intervention. The training intervention consisted of 30 darts throws in 10 days and 30 attempts each day. The practice of the research groups is as follows: The variable practice group performed their practice in all conditions or at all three distances (2, 2.60, and 3.20) from the dart center. The order of the intervals was predetermined and random, with a limit that each interval occurred ten times. The fixed training group also performed their throw training from a distance of 2.60 for a total of 30 training attempts (25). The method of presenting the instructions was that in the external focus group, during the dart training intervention, they received instructions to focus on the target heart, and in the internal focus group, they focused on their hands. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to analyze the data. Significance level was considered for statistical comparisons (P<0.05).
Results
The results showed that the groups significantly improved in executive function variables (Stroop test and Wisconsin). However, according to the obtained averages, it can be seen that among the research groups, the combined group of variable training and external focus had created more improvement in executive function variables. ANCOVA test was used to evaluate the effect of training with training Schedule conditions and focus on executive functions (Stroop test). The results of the ANCOVA test showed that the training schedule and attentional focus have a significant effect on the number of congruent errors, the number of incongruent errors, congruent correct answer, incongruent correct answer, congruent reaction time, incongruent reaction time, and interference has a significant effect. The results of intergroup differences in the variables of number of consonant errors, number of inconsistent errors, correct consonant response, correct inconsistent response, consonant reaction time, inconsistent reaction time, and interference also showed that there was a significant difference between the research groups and between the research groups variable exercise group + external focus had led to better results in the variables of the Stroop test of executive functions than the other groups. Nevertheless, no significant difference was observed between other research groups. Also, the ANCOVA test was used to evaluate the effect of training with training Schedule conditions and focus on executive functions (Wisconsin test). The results of the ANCOVA test showed that the schedule of the training and the focus of attention significantly affected the number of classes, exhaustion error, and specific error. Also, the results related to the difference between groups in the variables of the number of classes, exhaustion error, and specific error showed that there was a significant difference between the research groups and among the research groups, the variable training + external focus group led to better results in the Wisconsin test variables compared to other groups. However, no significant difference was observed between other research groups.
Conclusion
The present study aimed to investigate the effect of training schedule and focus instructions on the executive functions of the elderly. The results of this study showed that among the conditions in this study, variable training conditions + external focus had shown a significant improvement compared to other groups. Research results of Wollesen & Voelcker-Rehage (2014) (27), and Tait et al. (2017) (28) showed that the combined effects of exercise instead of its different effects could be more effective in improving executive functions in the elderly. The current study also showed concerning exercise makeup intervention and focus. Besides, this research's results are consistent with the results of Toyofuka et al. (2022) (31). In their research, they used dart training intervention to lateralize the hemisphere to prevent reduced cognitive function in the elderly. The results showed that the accuracy of the dart throwing test in the elderly group was positively correlated with the amount of hemisphere lateralization. Also, the obtained results indicate that dart training intervention strengthens the lateral hemisphere in the elderly and has a high potential as a suitable exercise in preventing dementia and reducing cognitive functions. Overall, it can be argued that, conceivably, the likelihood of the better performance of the variable training + external focus group combination can be attributed to the neurological justifications cited in the study by Toyofuku et al. (2022) (31). Because in this research, a similar training task was used, as well as the application of external focus and variable planning.
Ethical Considerations
Compliance with ethical guidelines
The present study included ethical principles such as obtaining informed consent, the confidentiality of participants to keep their information confidential, and coding participants' names. The study also provided sufficient information on conducting the research, and participants were free to leave the study. This research was approved by the Ethics Committee of Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch, Tehran, Iran with the ethics code: IR.IAU.CTB.REC.1401.041.
Authors contributions
Article writing: Nahid Banari; Analysis of statistical findings and scientific and literary editing of the article: Dr. Zahra Entezari Khorasani and Dr. Marzieh Balali.
Funding
Personal funds funded this study.
Acknowledgments
The authors would like to thank all the participants in this study for their cooperation and sincere support, as well as all the elderly volunteers who participated in this study in Ahvaz who cooperated with us in collecting the findings of the present study. It should be noted that this article is taken from the doctoral dissertation at the Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch, Tehran, Iran.
Conflicts of interest
The authors of the present article declared no conflict of interest.

Table 1. Results of analysis of covariance
Partial Squared Eta P F Mean squares df Total squares Source of changes
Number of class
0.020 0.57 0.55 5.41 2 10.83 Assumption of homogeneity slope homogeneity
0.702 0.001* 132.19 1267.69 1 1267.69 Pretest
0.478 0.001* 25.66 246.09 2 492.18 Group
Exhaustion error
0.020 0.57 0.55 5.41 2 10.83 Assumption of homogeneity slope homogeneity
0.702 0.001* 132.19 1267.69 1 1267.69 Pretest
0.478 0.001* 25.66 246.09 2 492.18 Group
Especial error
0.020 0.57 0.55 5.41 2 10.83 Assumption of homogeneity slope homogeneity
0.702 0.001* 132.19 1267.69 1 1267.69 Pretest
0.478 0.001* 25.66 246.09 2 492.18 Group
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Type of Study: Research |
Received: 2022/04/27 | Accepted: 2022/06/1 | Published: 2022/08/11

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