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Project: DELTA

"Development of Early Learning Tools for Attention"

The ability to concentrate and stay focussed on a task, to switch attention between tasks, to inhibit impulsive responding, and to mentally hold and use information are critical skills for learning and academic outcomes. However, children with developmental disability (estimated at 3% of the population) often show weaknesses in one or more of these critical areas of attention, leading to difficulties in learning and academic performance, as well as difficulties developing social skills.

Despite the acknowledgement of these core attentional problems in children with developmental disability, there are currently very few interventions that can assist children in improving these attention skills from a young age, when development of these skills are critical. Furthermore, current interventions focus on the use of standardised measures for assessment of strengths and weaknesses, which may mask the subtle profiles of these children.

The development of interactive gaming technology may provide the key to effective intervention for attention difficulties in young children with developmental disabilities. The recent explosion of portable gaming consoles has provided a unique opportunity to develop technologies with interactive user interfaces that are both motivating and highly enjoyable, whilst still facilitating learning. A number of ‘Brain Training’ games have been produced in recent times, however few, if any, have been specifically designed to facilitate improvement in core areas of functioning in children with developmental disabilities.

Our research aims to design the first interactive attention training program for young children with developmental disabilities, using portable gaming technology that is highly motivating, easily accessible and transportable. Furthermore, this will be the first training program to be scientifically tested using a Randomised Control Trial, which will enable researchers to determine the long-term efficacy of using interactive technologies to train such core cognitive areas as attention.

Research Team:

Professor Kim Cornish, PhD

Associate Professor Kylie Gray, PhD

Dr. Darren Hocking, PhD

Dr. Kirsten Ellis, PhD

Industry Partners:

Jefferson Harcourt, BEng

Kevin McIntosh

PhD Students:

Hannah Kirk, BSc

Daniel Thomas, BBNSc

Andrew Halim, BSc

Associate Researchers:

Professor Kate Smith-Miles, PhD

Andrew Cookson, BSc