Executive Functions

1- Working Memory

 

Apple Users can download Executive Functions Lite - free, reduced version of the app 

Executive Functions Lite contains 24 exercises/levels, compared to 349 of the full, paid version.

 

 

 

What are Executive Functions

Executive Functions are the set of cognitive processes that allows to manage complex or unusual situations successfully. They regulate the processes of analysis, planning, control and coordination of the cognitive system, and govern the activation and use of knowledge processes. The main executive functions are the acquisition and updating of Working Memory, Cognitive Flexibility and Behavioral Inhibition.

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Working Memory

Working Memory (STM) is the set of skills that allows to acquire, order and use information for a short period of time. Its enhancement facilitates and enriches learning skills.

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"Executive Functions" App 

The "Executive Functions" series of apps, the first of which is dedicated to Working Memory, offers tools for the assessment and training of cognitive skills that are the basis of learning processes.

The app presented here proposes a wide collection of exercises (349) with different qualities of stimuli and presentation methods, to evaluate and train the skills that form the Working Memory.
The exercises propose a series of stimuli through images, voice, text or their combinations. The elements must be used immediately after the presentation to complete the tests, which include selection and repetition of the lists, discrimination and ordering. The exercises are presented in order ofincreasing difficulty and can be performed individually or in acontinuous stream. Custom lists can be created, for example by privileging one or more of the presentation modes and / or choosing the relative level of difficulty.

The app is available in full (paid) version and in "lite", free version. The lite version offers only 24 exercises/levels, compared to 349 of the  full app.

Download Executive Functions Lite - Free

The first exercises are particularly suitable for the youngest and in the case of LSD: they offer a low number of elements and gradually introduce some difficulties such as chromatic discrimination, the choice of categories of elements and alphabetical or numerical ordering.
Roughly starting from the number 100 of the basic list, the exercises become more and more complex, combining different presentation modes and increasing the number of stimuli and elements to choose from. They can be used by boys and adults as entry levels. Many exercises from number 200 onwards begin to contain higher levels of difficulty and are alternated with apparently simpler ones, which widen the stock of stimuli preparing the User to face the following tests.
At launch, the app requests the insertion or selection of a User Name that will be used to load the settings and the level reached and to save the progress and the results.

After entering or choosing the name, it's possible to immediately access the exercises.

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Structure of the exercises


Each exercise is divided into 6 phases: introduction, presentation of the stimuli to be memorized, request, appearance of the 'game board', answer and results.

The introduction is a brief message: it describes the type of stimuli that will be proposed (images, text, voice etc.).

During the presentation, the items to be stored are shown / played one after the other.

At the end of the presentation, the request message specifies how the newly acquired stimuli will be used.

   

 

    

 

Then the 'game board' appears, formed by 'cards' in a number that is always greater than that of the elements presented.

The answer consists in dragging in the bar at the bottom the 'cards' that correspond to the request, in the order specified by the request.

When the last element has been inserted, the evaluation procedure starts automatically and compares the elements of the answer given with those of the solution of the exercise. At the end, a short message comments on the results: in case of success the passage to the next level is proposed, otherwise it is recommended to repeat the exercise.

 

A score and an evaluation is also assigned, which depends on time taken, number of elements, difficulty of the answer and any request for help.
The repetition and advancement of level are however free.

At any time it is possible to see scores and results for the exercises completed by the User, sorted in various ways. For each exercise are displayed the best results.

By selecting one of the saved exercises it will be possible to repeat it. This function can be useful to play again the exercises where the results obtained are insufficient, for example by listing the exercises saved by increasing results, so as to see on top the ones with the lowest scores and / or evaluation.

While displaying all the 'cards' of each exercise, a "magnifying glass" can be dragged onto any of the images to see it enlarged, read and listen to its name. This simple function, widely used during the first sessions, allows children to explore different images  and become familiar with their names.


During use you will probably notice that the app performs functions related to working memory, but at the same time it also improves attention and discrimination skills, and enriches users' vocabulary.

 
The use of the app can be very demanding, especially for the little ones: especially in the case of LSD, it is advisable to start with short sessions, gradually increasing the number of proposed exercises.

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Advanced use

In the basic list, the exercises are presented in order of increasing difficulty, mixing all the methods of presentation and responseavailable. After having completed a certain number of exercises, it will probably be evident that each User obtains better results with a certain type of exercise, while encountering particular difficulties with one or more of the others.
At this point it may be useful to prepare a personalized list, for example by including only the exercises of a certain difficulty level, or a specific presentation mode. On the contrary, personalization can also be used to exclude certain types of exercises, postponing their execution until the User has reached a higher level of attention and better results.  


To access the list customization functions, press the "Set exercises" button in the app main view.
In the screen, a sliding panel shows the active exercises as colored bars of increasing height. Each color corresponds to one of the available types of exercise. The bar of the current exercise is highlighted in brighter color, and in the lower part of the screen its characteristics are listed: request message, presentation mode, total elements, number of elements presented, number of elements to be used in the response among those presented, use of categories and sorting.


Touching any of the bars visible on the top panel selects the corresponding exercise, which will be used as a starting point for the flow of levels, if the setting is confirmed when the view is closed.
Two "arrow" buttons below the panel allow fine selection.

At the bottom of the view there is also a cursor to increase / reduce the relative difficulty: increasing reduces the time of presentation of the elements to be memorized and the intervals between one element and another, while it is lengthened the pause between the end of the presentation and the actual  use of stimuli. The settings are reversed if the relative difficulty is reduced. It is recommended to use this command to facilitate exercises by Users with ADD and ADHD. In any case, during the exercise the "Help" button allows to review the entire presentation sequence, greatly easing the exercise solution.

 

Above the sliding panel is the "Filter exercises ..." button. This button displays a list of switches to restrict the exercises to one or more request modes, to one or more number of answers provided, excluding or including those that require sorting and / or the use of categories.

Using the controls in an appropriate way, it is therefore possible to create customized lists to train specific skills and / or to limit the difficulty related to the chosen level.

For example, imagine a Child about 7-8 years old, who finds particular difficulty in solving the levels that involve the presentation of stimuli by means of written words.
To create a series of exercises that temporarily exclude this mode, you can "turn off" the "Text" and "Text and voice" switches, remove the exercises with 4 answers (the most difficult), excluding even those that require the use of categories and alphabetical / numerical ordering.
In this way, a personalized sequence of 46 exercises is obtained.


On the contrary, you can decide to focus on the exercises in which the child encounters the greatest difficulties. So, still excluding the highest number of responses, orders and categories, you will get a list of 28 levels. After completing it, if the results are satisfactory, it will be possible to add the use of categories and other difficulties.
Please, remember  that the app generates each level automatically, so any repetitions will often produce different and varied exercises.





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