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Enhancing executive functions among Dutch elementary school children using the Train Your Mind Program: Protocol for a cluster randomized trial

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Abstract

Background: Executive functions are higher cognitive control functions, which are essential to physical and psychological well-being, academic performance, and healthy social relationships. Executive functions can be trained, albeit without broad transfer, to this date. Broad transfer entails the translation of improved cognitive functions to daily life (behaviors). The intervention Train your Mind was designed to train executive functions among elementary school children aged 9 to 11 years, and obtain broad transfer in terms of enhanced physical activity, healthy eating, and socioemotional regulation.

Objective: This paper aims to describe the cluster randomized trial to test the effectiveness of the Train your Mind intervention.

Methods: Train your Mind was integrated into the existing school curriculum for 8 months (25 weeks excluding holidays). The effectiveness of the intervention was tested in a cluster randomized trial comprising 13 schools, 34 groups (school classes), and 800 children, using a battery of 6 computer tasks at pre-and postmeasurement. Each of the 3 core executive functions was measured by 2 tasks (Flanker and Go/No-Go; N-Back and Running Span; Attention Switching Task and Dots/Triangles). Moreover, we administered questionnaires that measure emotion-regulation, cognitive errors, physical activity, dietary habits, and the psycho-social determinants of diet and physical activity. Body mass index was also measured. Multilevel analyses will account for clustering at the school and group levels, and randomization took place at the school level.

Results: Results are currently being analyzed.

Conclusions: The main purpose of this study is to test Train your Mind's effectiveness in enhancing executive functions. Second, we investigate whether increased executive functions lead to improved physical activity and healthy eating. If found effective, executive function training could easily be integrated into school curricula everywhere, and as such, boost health, academic performance, and emotion-regulation of elementary school children, in a cost-effective manner.

    Research areas

  • Journal Article, TASK, DIFFICULTIES QUESTIONNAIRE SDQ, healthy eating, eHealth, STRENGTHS, physical activity, LATENT VARIABLE ANALYSIS, INTERVENTIONS, RESPONSE-INHIBITION, children, ADOLESCENTS, cognitive development, socioemotional development, PHYSICAL-ACTIVITY, INTERFERENCE, academic performance, executive function, WORKING-MEMORY
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number144
Number of pages11
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Volume7
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2018