University of Padova

Wii Neurogames

Project Description

The lack of appeal in existing training for neuropsychological rehabilitation stands at the base of our attempt to make them more attractive and motivating. The implementation of neuropsychological paradigms in computerized settings (derived from the corpus of knowledge of cognitive science and neuroscience) has already been proved successful. Observing the incidental rehabilitative power of existing videogames, it is possible to explore the challenge of a cognitive science-based design of videogames for neurotraining and rehabilitation.

The main purpose of this project is to develop a specific training for patients affected by brain damages (post-traumatic, post-surgery or post-stroke patients) and elderly people. The training is composed by several games, each one specifically designed to rehabilitate or enhance a specific cognitive function, such as attention, working memory, sensory and motor control.

Among various possibilities, the new console Nintendo Wii emerged as particularly suitable to reach these goals. Thanks to the physical interactivity it requires, this tool should improve motivation and the sense of presence in the player. Nintendo Wii is an innovation in the field of gaming experience and our aim is to provide patients with the appealing opportunity to “play while training”.

Human Technology Lab Homepage Wii Console

The innovative characteristic of Nintendo Wii is the Wii Remote (Wiimote), the primary controller of the console. Thanks to this device, the user has the possibility to manipulate and interact with objects displayed on the screen . This controller can reproduce acceleration and pointing direction using the accelerometer and the optical sensor technology. Therefore, the Wiimote allows a manipulation of the virtual scene according to real movements performed in the real space.
Together with visual and verbal feedback, the Wiimote also provides the user with force-feedbacks (rumble) and body sensorial stimulations.

New opportunities to develop modern and revolutionary computerised trainings for rehabilitation of sensorimotor and cognitive skills are emerging in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (an example is the Computerized Progressive Attentional Training, CPTA).
The commercial game industry offers a series of cognitive science-based rehabilitative games, such as the Brain Age software for Nintendo DS ( or the MindFit computer-based cognitive training (

Another important objective of our project is to improve body involvement in gaming to enhance the sense of presence (as already observed by Berthouze, Kim and Darshak, 2007, in a research using Guitar Hero for Sony Play Station).

A participant playing with Wii Neurogames Participants playing with Wii Neurogames

Work Description

Our trainings are based on Cognitive Neuropsychological and Neuroscientific models. Inspired by existing training and neuropsychological tests selected for their proved effectiveness and efficiency, we are developing a new training for cognitive rehabilitation. The Htlab is trying to exploit the potential of Nintendo Wii offered by the Wiimote.

The first games developed implement tasks focused on attention and executive functions, working memory, pattern recognition and stimulus reaction, sensory and motor control, problem solving, planning and decision making. The relevance of these processes is due to their strong impact on normal life habits and their effects on controlling and organizing behaviours in particular chronic health conditions, traumatic brain injury and age-based decline.

The next step will be to evaluate interface and usability of the games adopting a cognitive ergonomics approach. The user centered game design will consider the specific needs of special users (elderly, neuropsychological patients) and the rehabilitative aims of the tool itself. Games will be evaluated from the neuropsychological point of view. The training will be administered in collaboration with several hospitals and rest houses.


In progress…

Wii Balance Board A participant playing with Wii Balance Board

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