Synchrony in Old Age: Playing the Mirror Game Improves Cognitive Performance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Studies have shown that synchronized motion between people positively affects a range of emotional and social functions. The mirror-game is a synchrony-based paradigm, common to theater, performance arts, and therapy, which includes dyadic synchronized motion, playfulness, and spontaneity. The goal of the current study is to examine the effects of the mirror-game on subjective and cognitive indices in late life. Methods: Thirty-four older adults (aged 71–98) participated in a within-group study design. Participants conducted two sessions of 9-minute movement activities: the mirror-game and the control condition–a physical exercise class. Several measures were taken before and after experimental sessions to assess socio-emotional and attentional functions. Results: The mirror-game enhanced performance on the attention sub-scale and led to faster detections of spoken words in noise. Further, it enhanced perceived partner responsiveness and led to an increase in positive reported experience. Conclusions: Our preliminary findings suggest that the mirror-game, rather than the exercise class, may have an immediate impact on mood and some attentional functions. Clinical implications: The mirror-game is a novel intervention, with potential benefits of social-emotional and cognitive functioning, which can be easily implemented into the daily routine care of older adults. Future studies should explore the effect of the mirror-game on additional cognitive and socio-emotional aspects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-326
Number of pages15
JournalClinical Gerontologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the The Faculty Social Welfare & Health Sciences, the University of Haifa, Israel [The Faculty Social Welfare & Health Sciences Grant]. We are grateful to BEIT AVRAHAM, The Sephardic Home for the Aged, and its adult day center for their generosity and collaboration. We thank all the research assistances that took part in the study. Finally, we thank the faculty of social welfare and social science at the University of Haifa, for supporting our study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Mirror game
  • attention
  • exercise
  • intervention
  • older adults
  • perceived partner responsiveness
  • playfulness
  • synchrony

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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