Project information

Developing and testing a battery of executive functioning tests suitable for typically developing 6-11 years olds and children with neuro-developmental disorders

Supported by the Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders

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Background

Many neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, fragile X syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome) are associated with deficits in executive functioning (processes which are responsible for the brain’s ability to coordinate behaviour). Previous research indicates that difficulties in executive functioning are linked to patterns of clinically relevant behaviours, which are often found to be challenging to the individual and their carers. However, we know very little about how precisely these difficulties in specific aspects of executive functioning are linked to particular patterns of behaviour. We aim to be able to bring about a desired change in behaviour (desired by the person with a disorder and their family members) in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders by training aspects of executive functioning that are linked to these behaviours. In order to be able to develop and test these types of training strategies it is important that we understand, in a detailed way, how executive functions are linked to behaviours. We are currently examining the basic components of executive functioning in typically developing children. We will then go on to measure executive functioning and behaviour in people with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Aims

We aim to examine the structure of basic executive component is typically developing children and to develop a test battery that will allow us to precisely measure executive processes in people with neurodevelopmental disorders. 

Method

Participants
Typically developing children aged 6 - 11 years in mainstream primary schools in the Birmingham area.

Measures
A battery of computerised executive functioning tests measuring shifting, inhibition and updating.

Progress to date

We have now administered the battery to over 100 children at primary schools in the Birmingham area. This has allowed us to modify the battery of tests based on children's initial experiences and then begin to collect normative data on the battery.

We are currently collaborating with a number of primary schools in the Birmingham area but we are always on the lookout for other schools who would be interested in supporting this project. If you would like further information about what this would involve please email us.

We are still searching for more children (either through schools or individually) who would be interested in taking part. This is because the more children we can test at this stage, the more accurately the battery will allow us to examine the executive functioning in children with neurodevelopmental disorders later.

Contact details

Primary contact: Dr Kate Woodcock
Email: kate.woodcock@bham.ac.uk