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Benefits of a game-based cognitive interface for knowledge work – from basic effects and neural correlates to neuropsychological rehabilitation

AssignmentProject of the former Junior Research Group Neuro-cognitive Plasticity
FundingLeibniz-WissenschaftsCampus „Cognitive Interfaces”
Project description

From a psychological perspective, digital games for learning can be described as a cognitive interface, transferring knowledge between the individual and a digital environment. Importantly, game-based learning environments provide engaging interfaces between individuals and digital information environments to augment and potentially outperform traditional educational settings. This is particularly important for knowledge-intensive contexts (requiring ‘knowledge work’), such as numerical and mathematical cognition, which is of considerable importance in everyday life. Therefore, in the current project we evaluate the benefit of an adaptive game-based cognitive interface for conceptual number knowledge.

Game-based learning environments use interaction as well as information design and finely balanced mechanisms to maintain users’ attention and motivation, making it a highly functional medium for conveying learning content. However, to better understand effects, potentials, and the applicability of a game-based cognitive interface as a specific representational format for conveying learning content, we will investigate its influence on the learning process on three different levels of processing:

  • Cognitive processing: in all studies we are interested in the learning outcome as the crucial indicator for whether a game-based cognitive interface is superior to a non-game-based equivalent.

  • Emotional processing: we will specifically evaluate whether a game-based cognitive interface induces more positive emotions, which in turn should further enhance learning performance. 

  • Neurofunctional processing: we will specify the neurofunctional underpinnings of game-based learning and its rewarding nature to further clarify the origins of its beneficial effects. Finally, in addition to these aspects addressing questions of basic research we will apply our game-based cognitive interface to elderly neuropsychological patients who may benefit specifically from a game-based cognitive interface. The current project, thus, not only clarifies the cognitive, emotional, and neurofunctional underpinnings of game-based learning, but also evaluates its applicability to a new target group.


Prof. Dr. Dr. Hans-Otto Karnath, University Hospital Tübingen

Dr. Kristian Kiili, Tampere University of Technology, Finland