Five-Day Training Improves Attention in Preschoolers

Program may improve attention irrespective of genetic background

TUESDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Just five days of training over a two- to three-week period improves the executive attention and intelligence of preschool children, according to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences early edition. The training may improve attention irrespective of genetic background, the authors add.

Michael I. Posner, Ph.D., of the department of psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, and colleagues examined the efficiency of attentional networks in 4- and 6-year-old children after five days with or without a targeted educational intervention over a two- to three-week period.

The computer-based video response training significantly improved the attention of children compared with controls as assessed by the child Attention Network Test, a conflict resolution test involving object orientation. Electrophysiological tests indicated that trained 6-year-olds had an improvement in prefrontal potentials. Children with training were more similar to adults on all performance measures than those without training. Pretest performance was related to a DAT1 gene allele, which has previously been shown to be linked to attention test performance.

"Overall, our data suggest that the executive attention network appears to develop under strong genetic control, but that it is subject to educational interventions during development," the authors conclude. They are providing free access to their training program in cooperation with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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