Comparing the Efficacy of Two School-Based Approaches of Neurocognitive Training for Enhancing Executive Functions

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Neurocognitive training has been shown to improve a range of cognitive/executive functions and behavior in children. Delivering this training in a school context may enhance its ecological validity and improve training outcomes. The current study examined the efficacy of two school-based neurocognitive training approaches for enhancing executive functions (EF) in typically developing children: neurocognitive training with no teacher positive feedback (NCT), and neurocognitive training with teacher positive feedback (NCT-TPF). Using a randomized control design, 45 children were randomly allocated to the no-training control, NCT, or NCT-TPF group and completed pre- and post-training assessments on the core executive function (EF) domains of inhibitory control, working memory, and task switching. Teachers’ subjective acceptance of the two training protocols was investigated to explore potential ecological validity. The two training groups completed six sessions of training in a kindergarten over a 3-week period. The results showed significant post-training improvements in an untrained inhibitory control task for both training groups when compared with the control group. Different effects were found for each group for the untrained task switching task. While reduced reaction time (RT) in correct Color and Shape trials at Time 2 were reported for the NCT-TPF group, there was no difference compared to the control group for the NCT group. The NCT group showed increased RT in Switch trials but reduced Shape errors compared to controls at Time 2, while these effects were not significant for the NCT-TPF group. An unexpected outcome was that children in both training conditions did not show a significant improvement in an untrained working memory task. Teachers’ subjective acceptance consistently supported including positive feedback as part of NCT. While further research is needed, these results support use of neurocognitive training and/or neurocognitive training with teacher positive feedback for typically developing children in a school context.

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Zhejiang Office of Philosophy and Social Science


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