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In Control

Game On

Innovative study allows kids to make a game of practicing self-control

Kid playing illustration

Illustration by Dan Page

Asking kids to harness their seemingly endless supply of energy can be an exercise in futility. Children have limited attention spans and perhaps even less self-control.

"Attention and self-regulation are critical for academic success and general health and well-being," says Catherine Spann, a research scientist in social and affective computing in the LINK Research Lab and principal investigator of the study. "If we understand the different states related to attention and self-regulation, we could develop targeted interventions for children and adults."

To that end, Dr. Spann and her team are studying the ideal physical and mental states for practicing attention and self-control by combining computer-game testing with ongoing simultaneous analysis of heart rate and skin activity. Spann is conducting the study in collaboration with the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

"We need to better understand the core of learning," says George Siemens, executive director of the LINK Lab. "Dr. Spann's work gives us important insight into how the mindsets and self-regulation of students impact their ability to learn."

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