Kentucky Academy of Science awards grant to Bingocize research project

WKU junior Andrea Anderson of Benton will spend her summer traveling to senior centers in Kentucky and Tennessee to conduct research on Bingocize® participants.

Anderson’s project is supported by a 2019 Undergraduate Research Grant awarded by the Kentucky Academy of Science to Dr. Matthew Shake, associate professor of Psychological Sciences, for Bingocize: A Novel Mobile Application to Help Improve Older Adult Health in Underserved Areas.

Anderson will be conducting cognitive tests on participants in the Bingocize® clinical trial, an NIH-sponsored research study investigating the benefits of an app-based exercise program for older adults’ cognitive and physical health.

“We will see how exercise affects their cognitive abilities,” Anderson said. “During the summer, I also will be entering and analyzing the data.”

The Bingocize® program combines a bingo-like game with exercise and health education. The unique addition of bingo addresses many of the barriers to older adults’ participation because the game is fun, familiar, and done in a group setting.  The program has been shown to increase older adults’ functional fitness, health knowledge and social engagement in a variety of settings.

Dr. Shake notes that the Bingocize® project is important because Kentucky’s population is aging with the Census Bureau estimating that nearly 25 percent of Kentuckians will be over age 60 by 2030. Additionally, Kentucky ranks poorly in most health demographics with 40 percent of older Kentuckians doing zero physical activity over the last 30 days, and both physical and cognitive outcomes are poor. 

Research indicates that physical activity can induce positive changes in both cognition and physical health, but most older adults are resistant to doing it, Dr. Shake noted.

“Many of the barriers they face are psychological: They are afraid to do it, believe it will be unenjoyable and aren’t motivated to do it alone,” he said. “The Bingocize® clinical trial tests the efficacy of an app we developed here at WKU to overcome those barriers. Students such as Andrea are critical to the success of the project because they travel to senior centers throughout the region to administer a wide battery of tests to the older participants, both before and after three months of using the Bingocize program.”

Anderson, a Psychological Sciences major, will start the Joint Undergraduate Master’s Program at WKU next fall and has a goal to obtain a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

“I’ve always been interested in how the brain works. I like doing research on it,” she said.

Contact: Matthew Shake, (270) 745-4312

Posted with permission from WKU News