Combining Exergame Training with Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Study Assessing the Effect on Neuronal Structure/Function in the Elderly Brain

Alexandra Schaettin*, Eling D. de Bruin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Web of Science)


A common problem in the older population is the risk of falling and related injury, immobility, and reduced survival. Age-related neuronal changes, e.g., decline in gray-and white-matter, affect neuronal, cognitive, and motor functioning. The improvement of these factors might decrease fall events in elderly. Studies showed that administration of video game-based physical exercise, a so-called exergame, or omega-3 fatty acid (FA) may improve motor and/or cognitive functioning through neuronal changes in the brain of older adults. The aim of this study is to assess the effects of a combination of exergame training with omega-3 FA supplementation on the elderly brain. We hypothesize that an intervention using a combination approach differently affects on the neuronal structure and function of the elderly's brain as compared to the sole administration of exergame training. The study is a parallel, double-blinded, randomized controlled trial lasting 26 weeks. Sixty autonomous living, non-smoking, and right-handed healthy older (>65 years) adults who live independently or in a senior residency are included, randomized, and allocated to one of two study groups. The experimental group receives a daily amount of 13.5 ml fish oil (including 2.9 g of omega-3 FA), whereas the control group receives a daily amount of 13.5 ml olive oil for 26 weeks. After 16 weeks, both groups start with an exergame training program three times per week. Measurements are performed on three time-points by treatment blinded investigators: pre-intervention measurements, blood sample after 16 week, and post-intervention measurements. The main outcomes are motor evoked potentials of the right M. tibialis anterior (transcranial magnetic stimulation) and response-related potentials (electroencephalography) during a cognitive test. For secondary outcomes, reaction time during cognitive tests and spatio-temporal parameters during gait performance are measured. Statistics will include effect sizes and a 2 ? 2-ANOVA with normally distributed data or the non-parametric equivalent for data not fulfilling normal distribution. The randomized controlled study is the first to investigate the effectiveness of exergame training combined with omega-3 FA in counteracting age- and behavioral-dependent neuronal changes in the brain. This study has been registered in the Swiss National Clinical Trials (SNCTP000001623) and the ISRCTN (ISRCTN12084831) Portals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number283
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2016


  • older adults
  • exergame training
  • video game
  • nutritional supplementation
  • omega-3 fatty acid
  • brain function
  • brain structure

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