Computer-Presented and Physical Brain-Training Exercises for School Children: Improving Executive Functions and Learning

Computer-Presented and Physical Brain-Training Exercises for School Children: Improving Executive Functions and Learning

Bruce E. Wexler (Yale University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1817-4.ch012
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Abstract

This chapter reviews the neuroscience foundation for understanding and harnessing neuroplastic processes that shape the structure and function of the human brain after birth, describes a newly developed, integrated series of computer presented and physical exercises to promote activity-related development of neurocognitive systems of attention and executive function in elementary school children, and reviews evidence of the efficacy of the program. The computer-presented brain exercises have new functionalities that more fully shape the training to each user's individual profile of cognitive strengths and weaknesses than was previously possible. The programs also provide assessments of each child's cognitive strengths and weaknesses based on built in formal tests of cognition and error analytic algorithms applied to 15-20,000 responses from each child while using the brain training program.
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Introduction

The Problem

A recently completed study assessed attention skills in 2,000 elementary school children and followed them for 16 years (Pingault et al, 2011). Children with attention problems when they were six years old were 7.6 times more likely than their classmates to never graduate from high school. This poor attention group included 17% of the study population. Failure to graduate from high school is associated with underemployment, unemployment, drug use and jail time. Current estimates are that approximately 7-10% of elementary-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Childhood ADHD is similarly associated with many of the same undesirable long term outcomes. In some schools, attention problems are even more common. In all schools, children with attention problems require disproportionate teacher time and can affect the learning environment for all children in the classroom.

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