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Background: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia result in cognitive decline which can negatively impact everyday functional abilities and quality of life. Virtual reality (VR) interventions could benefit the cognitive abilities of people with MCI and dementia, but evidence is inconclusive. Objective: To investigate the efficacy of VR training on global and domain-specific cognition, activities of daily living and quality of life. To explore the influence of priori moderators (e.g., immersion type, training type) on the effects of VR training. Adverse effects of VR training were also considered. Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted on all major databases for randomized control trial studies. Two separate meta-analyses were performed on studies with people with MCI and dementia. Results: Sixteen studies with people with MCI and four studies with people with dementia were included in each meta-analysis. Results showed moderate to large effects of VR training on global cognition, attention, memory, and construction and motor performance in people with MCI. Immersion and training type were found to be significant moderators of the effect of VR training on global cognition. For people with dementia, results showed moderate to large improvements after VR training on global cognition, memory, and executive function, but a subgroup analysis was not possible. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that VR training is an effective treatment for both people with MCI and dementia. These results contribute to the establishment of practical guidelines for VR interventions for patients with cognitive decline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1341-1370
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the University of Bath as part of a +3 PhD studentship held by TP. KP’s research is partly funded by the Centre for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research and Applications (CAMERA 2.0; EP/T022523/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 - IOS Press. All rights reserved.


  • Cognition
  • cognitive rehabilitation
  • cognitive training
  • dementia
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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