Under a previous grant that we (including David Washburn) adapted the training methods that Rumbaugh and Washburn (1995) had developed to train monkeys for NASA to use with young children (Rueda et al., 2005, 2007). We found these methods to be successful in improving the efficiency of the underlying executive attention network and the training generalized far beyond the specific domain of training to improve the childrens'IQ. These findings have since been replicated and extended in studies with normal children (Rueda et al., in process) and have been applied in clinical studies of ADHD (Tamm et al., in press) and Autism (Ozonoff et al., in process). Findings from other groups have also shown the effectiveness of classroom interventions in training attention (Diamond et al., 2007;Fanning et al., 2007). Although classroom methods are important for practical applications of attention training, our method has the advantage of demonstrating rapid improvement in key skills, which are specified in detail by the computer programs. Checa et al. (2008) have also shown that the efficiency of executive attention predicts important aspects of school performance in middle school children. An important aspect of current research is the identification of an attentional network related to the ability of children and adults to regulate their thoughts and feelings (Posner &Rothbart, 2007). Self regulation is a central concept in developmental psychology. Understanding its neural basis provides an important research question and is critical to understanding whether training in attention can be an effective method for improving school performance in some or all preschool children. Our current longitudinal study began when the children were 7 months old and they were completed at about age 3.5 years in the summer of 2008. We will have observed these children's development of attention over a 3 year period, and they are now of an appropriate age for attention training. Results from our longitudinal study showed how individual differences in temperament and genes were related to the development of the executive attention network and behavior. This group provides a unique opportunity to examine how trained children will differ in attentional development and performance in the early school years from children in a control condition. The literature provides encouragement for the likely success of this enterprise (Blair &Raza, 2007). We recognize that other groups have and will pursue aspects of this proposal (Blair &Raza, 2007;Diamond et al., 2007), but our research has two advantages. One, our training methods are well specified and can also be used with animal models, and two, we have identified the neural basis for improvement, including some of the genes likely to be involved. It appears to be a unique opportunity to determine how attention and its training influence critical aspects of schooling.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
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Georgia State University
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