Ecological assessment of executive functions: a new virtual reality paradigm

Jansari, Ashok S.; Devlin, Alex; Agnew, Robert; Akesson, Katarina; Murphy, Lesley and Leadbetter, Tony. 2014. Ecological assessment of executive functions: a new virtual reality paradigm. Brain Impairment, 15(2), pp. 71-87. ISSN 1443-9646 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Acquired brain injury (ABI) can lead to a constellation of higher-order executive problems, which can impact significantly on everyday behaviour. While some neuropsychological assessments are able to objectively assess these impairments, increasingly, clinicians are finding that a subset of their patients pass these tests whilst still exhibiting difficulties in day-to-day living. Calls have therefore been made to develop assessments that are more sensitive and that are more ecologically-valid. In this study, in Experiment 1, a multiple errands task (MET) based around a business office was created to concurrently assess nine aspects of executive functioning (planning, prioritisation, selective-thinking, creative-thinking, adaptive-thinking, multi-tasking, action-based prospective memory (PM), event-based PM and time-based PM). This new paradigm, the Jansari assessment of Executive Functions (JEF©) showed a significant difference between six individuals with ABI and matched healthy controls; further it showed that across the nine constructs there was a range of performance. In Experiment 2, JEF© was recreated in a virtual environment resembling a computer game and it was found that this version significantly differentiated between 17 individuals with ABI and 30 healthy controls. These results suggest that the virtual version of JEF© could be used as a new assessment of executive function. The profile of performance across the nine constructs for each individual provides a wealth of objective information that could potentially inform targeted rehabilitation.

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executive functions; ecological validity; virtual reality; assessment; multiple errand task

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2 September 2014Published

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Date Deposited:

27 Jan 2016 11:53

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 16:07

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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