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In collaboration with Jeanne Townsend, Ph.D., Leanne conceptualized the ideas for the attention training games and the gamified assessments, ensuring they incorporate the critical elements necessary to train and accurately measure attention. She provides scientific guidance on software development efforts and creates new content for thought leadership.
Leanne is a co-director of the Research on Autism and Development Lab at UC San Diego, an Assistant Research Scientist in the Institute for Neural Computation, Assistant Science Director of the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center (TDLC), and the Director of the Power of NeuroGaming (PoNG) Center at the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego.
Check out some of our articles on attention challenges…
“My son has always had trouble looking me in the eye when I wanted to have a serious conversation with him. Last week, when I told him to look in my eyes, He said, ‘Just like in the arcade.’ He can do it easily now.”
“It helped him a lot with him being able to focus in the classroom. He can look at the teacher and focus more on what she is saying, which keeps him more engaged in learning.”
“The immediate result was definitely better focus on homework tasks. But what I noticed overall was an improved ability in his executive functioning (something he has struggled with): he was able to organize his thoughts and his tasks better and had the ability to multitask without losing his original train of thought.”
“Both my sons report improved hand-eye coordination, focus, attention and tracking. In particular, they found that their peripheral vision improved which facilitated driving and blind spot detection.”
“Students love it so far. Some of them think they have superpowers!”
“This is a great way to help my son increase his attention and focus. In a few weeks, we could see how he was able to stay on task for longer periods of time.”
“The students love it!”
The goal of Dr. Mole & Mr. Hide is to hit bandit moles as they pop out of the ground and to avoid looking at the professor moles. As the game progresses, the moles appear more quickly and from more locations. Eventually they even parachute from the sky! The game trains the ability to quickly and accurately orient the player’s gaze and attention to a sudden event, and to monitor a wide range of view. As the game gets harder, inhibitory control is also developed as the player avoids looking at the professor moles.
Game Instructions: Bandit Moles are infesting Dr. Mole’s garden! Dr. Mole needs your help: look at the bandits to scare them away. If you see an exclamation point (!), then Dr. Mole is coming up. Don’t scare Dr. Mole!
In Shroomdigger, the player searches for spotted-top mushrooms in a mystical landscape. Focusing gaze on a “shroom” causes it to shrink until it disappears with a poof. Find all the shrooms before time runs out! The game trains attention by requiring steady fixation of gaze, visual search in a crowded field, and the ability to ignore moving distractions.
Game Instructions: Look for the Mushrooms. Keep looking at them until they shrink and disappear. Find all the hidden shrooms before time runs out.
In Space Race, the player uses gaze to steer a ship through a cosmic race course, aiming for green gates, avoiding red gates, and collecting stars for bonus points. The game trains anticipatory focus by requiring the player to gaze ahead of the current ship position. Executive functions related to planning are trained by the need to quickly decide whether collecting a star will leave enough time to avoid a red gate that causes damage to the ship.
Game Instructions: Guide your spaceship through the green gates of the space circuit. Look ahead of the ship to steer. Avoid the red gates — they damage your ship. Collect stars for bonus points.
In Kung Fall, the player trains a ninja for the Dojo’s Aerial Skills exam. Using gaze, the player guides the ninja to land and balance on a series of rock pillars while avoiding birds and ignoring falling cherry blossoms. The game trains planning, steady fixation of attention and gaze, and the ability to ignore moving distractions. This game is unlocked after 3 hours of play.
Game Instructions: Train for the dojo’s aerial skills exam. Guide your ninja to any pillar. Once he lands on a pillar, focus your eyes on the ninja until he balances. Watch out for the birds!
Butterfly Bob flies through a peaceful landscape, collecting nectar from flowers while avoiding menacing bugs and traps hiding in bushes. The player uses gaze to guide Bob vertically, flying higher or lower as needed. It trains anticipatory focus, planning, and prioritization. This game is unlocked after 6 hours of play.
Game Instructions: Help Butterfly Bob collect nectar. Guide Bob to the flowers, but avoid the bugs — they will steal his nectar!
In Trapped-a-Zoid, the player uses gaze to steer a spaceship to avoid colliding with neighboring ships. It trains inhibitory control of attention, requiring the player to suppress salient visual input while gazing into the empty space where the spaceship will be safe. Executive function is trained by engaging top-down strategy planning. This game is unlocked after 10 hours of play.
Game Instructions: You’re trapped! Guide your trapezoid to avoid the projectiles. You gain more lives the longer you survive.
The assessment tasks are best used to measure a player’s improvement from one assessment to the next. They are not an accurate assessment of attention challenges on their own.
The Attention Arcade™ includes 3 assessments which each measure different aspects of attention. The purpose of the assessments is to show that skills users are developing in the games transfer to skills in the real world.
In Tiger Trot, the player sees a tiger cub running along a jungle path and peripheral cues that indicate where upcoming obstacles are located. The player must maintain fixation on the tiger during the whole task. If the player deviates, an arrow appears to cue the player to look at the tiger and the tiger slows down. Tiger Trot provides a sensitive measure of covert orienting speed.
Game Instructions: Tena the tiger cub decided to spend her day exploring her jungle. Look at Tena to keep her running full speed. Move Tena using the arrow keys on the keyboard. Pay close attention to the signs next to Tena, these signs will warn you of upcoming obstacles on the path. When you see a single paw, press the arrow key that points in the same direction. For example, press the up arrow key for the paw that is pointing up, the left arrow key for the paw that is pointing left, and the right arrow key for the paw that is pointing right.
When the player looks at the collection device in the middle of the screen, a ghost appears peripherally in one of 16 locations. If the player looks to the ghost before the timer runs out, then the ghost is trapped and pulled into the center object. The assessment measures the timing and accuracy of the player’s ability to orient their attention to a peripheral stimulus.
Game Instructions: Look at the ghosts to catch them. Fill the tank as quickly as you can. Don’t take too long or they will escape!
In Gone Fishing, the player fixates on the fisherman to fill the bob, then cues appear to the left or right. If the cue is a fish, then the player’s task is to look at the fish to catch it. If the cue is a turtle, then the player’s task is to look at the opposite side of the screen where a fish is hiding. This anti-saccade task measures the speed of reaction to the fish targets and inhibitory control in terms of the student’s ability to suppress a look at the turtle (a distractor). Because the game requires players to switch between pro-saccade and anti-saccade trials, we also believe that reaction time measures from this game can be a sensitive measure of task-switching ability.
Game Instructions: Look at the fisherman until his bob is fully colored in. Look at the fish to catch it. Don’t look at the turtle. When you see a turtle, look to the opposite side to catch the fish hiding under the water.