BrainQuest is an exergame for mobile devices which seeks to support the training and development of ‘executive function’ (EF). The game has been designed and developed by PhD student Stuart Gray, Professor Judy Robertson, and Dr Thusha Rajendran for the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, in partership with PE teacher John Mowbray and the children of Craigour Park Primary School.
Executive function (EF) is an essential cognitive component affecting children’s development, future potential, physical wellbeing, and overall quality of life. Executive functions describe a set of mental processes which we use when we need to concentrate, pay attention, and refrain from blindly following natural instinct. EF allows us to analyse our past experiences before undertaking a present course of action, which is vital in order to perform basic and complex activities such as decision making, multitasking, using memory, problem solving, planning, and managing time and space.
Why is Executive Function important for children?
EF impacts school readiness and core academic competence throughout a child’s education. In fact, EFs have been shown to be a greater measure of school readiness than IQ and entry-level reading and maths scores, as well as being able to predict reading and maths competence throughout academic life. Beyond the classroom, EF can affect the trajectory of an individual’s entire life, and EF weaknesses have been associated with substance abuse, criminal activity, and poor physical and mental health. Consequently, improving executive function is critical to the future development of society’s biggest sectors, particularly education, employment, health, and public safety.