Executive Function Computerized Training in Very Preterm-Born Children: A Pilot Study

Cornelieke S.H. Aarnoudse-Moens*, E. Sabrina Twilhaar, Jaap Oosterlaan, Heske G. Van Veen, Pier J.M. Prins, Anton H.L.C. Van Kaam, Aleid G. Van Wassenaer-Leemhuis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Attention problems are one of the most pronounced and documented consequences of very preterm birth (gestational age ≤32 weeks). However, up to now, there is no research published on suitable interventions at school age aimed to overcome these problems. Research in this population did show that executive functions (EFs) are strongly associated with inattention. BrainGame Brian is a newly developed computerized training, in which, in 25 training sessions, the core EFs, including working memory, impulse control, and cognitive flexibility, are trained. This pilot study aimed to examine the feasibility of studying BrainGame Brian in very preterm-born children with attention problems. Design: Pilot feasibility intervention study with one baseline and one follow-up assessment. Materials and Methods: Feasibility was measured by the participation rate, dropout rate, and user experiences with regard to effort, training characteristics, and recommendation to others. From a larger cohort study, 15 very preterm-born children at age 10 years with parent-reported attention problems on the Child Behavior Checklist/6-18 years were invited to participate in this pilot study. BrainGame Brian was performed for a period of 6 weeks. Training outcome measures included visual working memory, impulse control, cognitive flexibility, speed variability, and parent-rated attention, for which pre- and post-training differences were examined at the group level by the Wilcoxon signed-rank test as well as for each individual child separately by the reliable change index. Results: Twelve of 15 children and their parents agreed to participate and 11 children successfully completed BrainGame Brian in the 6-week period. Parents were positive about training characteristics and lack of interference with schooling, but scored the effort as high. We found clinically significant changes in visual working memory and speed variability in post-training assessments. Conclusion: BrainGame Brian is a feasible intervention for very preterm-born children with attention problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-181
Number of pages7
JournalGames for Health
Issue number3
Early online date1 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Attention
  • Feasibility
  • Neurocognitive
  • Premature


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