Teenagers more often than people of any other age, tend to follow their short-term impulses rather than pursuing long-term goals. This difficulty controlling impulses typically gets better with age, but for some teenagers controlling impulses can be especially challenging.
Researchers at Monash University are inviting teenagers between the ages of 13 to 18 who have difficulties with attention, or a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), to test a new Virtual Reality (VR) cognitive training program. This virtual reality program, known as Alfi VR, is designed to improve inhibitory control and reduce impulsive behaviours in teenagers.
Why is this research important?
Difficulties with inhibition, which are common in children with ADHD, can affect both your behaviour and thinking, causing a person to act impulsively or make it challenging to ignore distractions and pay attention. For 80% of children diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms will persist into their teenage years and can significantly impact their learning, mental health, and social relationships.
Currently, there is a lack of non-pharmaceutical interventions available for families struggling with attention difficulties. VR-based cognitive training could be an engaging way to enable young people of all ages to reach their full potential without having to rely on pharmaceutical interventions.
Who can participate?
Stage 1 involves completing some simple online screening questionnaires. Participants who meet the criteria for attention difficulties will be invited to participate in the study.
Stage 2 involves some further online questionnaires for both parents or caregivers and teenagers and the completion of two cognitive and behavioural assessments. Teenagers will complete either 14 30-minute VR training sessions (2 times a week, for 7 weeks), or complete their regular classroom activities.
All assessments and training sessions will be held at your child’s school, either during school hours or after hours as agreed with the school principal.
What is involved?
Participation in the present study will involve two phases.
Phase 1 – Initially parents will complete some eligibility and demographic questionnaires. A cognitive assessment may be offered to your child at this stage if required.
Phase 2 – Your child will complete a game-based cognitive training intervention at home for a period of 5 weeks, as well as attending four sessions at either Monash University or the family home to measure changes in attention, memory and social functioning. Parents will also be asked to complete questionnaires at these sessions.
While we cannot guarantee that you or your child will receive any benefits from this research, possible benefits of this intervention may include improvements in your child’s inhibition or reduced impulsive behaviour, which could lead to improvements in mental health, educational outcomes and decision-making.
All participants will receive the chance to win their own VR headset (valued at $315).