Can we improve cognition in children through a video game that promotes both cognitive engagement and physical activity?
Currently, I am taking traditional cognitive tasks for children and transforming them into physical, live video games.
How can technology enrich the learning experiences of children?
Do children’s individual differences in executive function influence how much they learn from varying digital media presentations?
I'm a group fitness instructor for Les Mills, a program offered in 100 countries around the world. What differentiates this exercise program from others is that the routines are designed through scientifically-based research through collaboration with kinesiologists and exercise physiologists.
Recent experimental research has converged on an intriguing finding: exercise activities in which one must create, monitor, and modifiy actions in the presence of continually changing task demands promote executive functions.
Yet, school time dedicated to recess has dwindled and few children receive the recommended amount of physical activity. Children with low physical activity self-efficacy and enjoyment or negative perceptions of exercising around others might be discouraged from fully engaging and participating in group exercise games or sports. Other children might not have access to safe recreational equipment. Exergames (a portmanteau of “exercise” and “games”) are a new generation of video games that stimulate a more active, whole-body gaming experience. Exergames require similar skills sports and group exercise games do: anticipating the behavior of opponents, employing strategies, and adapting to ever-changing task demands to accomplish a challenging goal while coordinating the body to execute complex movements. Importantly, exergames can implement algorithms for continuously adapting the difficulty level to children’s individual performance so they are challenged at the right level.
During the period of immaturity in prekindergarten children (i.e., 3- to 5-year-olds), progressive and regressive changes (e.g., myelination and synaptic pruning, respectively) occur concurrently and are driven in part by the child’s experiences. Executive function interventions are used as remediation or prevention of cognitive deficits, so early intervention is crucial; yet little research has conducted training interventions involving complex motor movements with children below school-age. Currently, I am investigting whether experiencing a cognitively engaging exergame before entering formal schooling may temporarily enhance the functioning of cognitive skills, and with carefully controlled experiments determine the underlying mechanisms of why.
In my free time I also sculpt, draw, and paint.
Historically, the disciplines of exercise physiology, developmental psychology and cognitive science, art and technology have had little interaction together despite being able to answer important questions when molded together. I'm bringing together these disciplines in my on-going research to contribute to the fields and make an impact on the community.