Generating Attention, Inhibition, and Memory: A Pilot Randomized Trial for Preschoolers With Executive Functioning Deficits.

Journal of clinical child and adolescent psychology : the official journal for the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, American Psychological Association, Division 53

PubMedID: 28107027

Tamm L, Epstein JN, Loren RE, Becker SP, Brenner SB, Bamberger ME, Peugh J, Halperin JM. Generating Attention, Inhibition, and Memory: A Pilot Randomized Trial for Preschoolers With Executive Functioning Deficits. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2017;1-15.
This goal of this study was to assess the initial feasibility and efficacy of a play-based intervention targeting executive functions (EF) and parent-child relationships in preschoolers compared with an active control group. Preschoolers with EF deficits (M age = 3. 7 ± 0. 47, predominantly White boys) and their parents were randomized to intervention (n = 36) or active control (n = 32) conditions. Child performance on EF tasks, parent and masked teacher ratings of EF and behavior, and masked clinician ratings of severity were collected at baseline and at 3 and 6 months postbaseline. Partial eta-squared effect sizes at. 02 or higher comparing performance across the two groups was considered evidence of meaningful, albeit small, intervention effects. INTERVENTION
effects were observed for parent ratings of inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, and number/severity of problems experienced in various home situations, teacher ratings of severity of problems in various school situations, parent and teacher ratings of overall impairment, and clinician ratings of impairment.

INTERVENTION
effects for functional improvements were maintained at the 6-month follow-up.No effect of the intervention was observed on the objective EF measures, although parent ratings of emotional control were improved for children in the intervention group. An intervention utilizing play-based activities targeting EF, when administered in a structured way by parents, is a promising approach for improving behavior in preschoolers with self-regulation deficits. More work is needed to investigate potential impact on EF and to disentangle mechanisms of action. It may be that the intervention's focus on the structure and quality of parent-child interactions is a mediator of outcomes, rather than improved EFs.