Embodied cognition and executive functioning : the effect of whole body interaction on children's planning and inhibition
McKenna, Peter Edward
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Modern user interfaces (UI) are becoming more ‘embodied’ as they facilitate bodily processes. Games consoles now often include body tracking hardware. Tenants of the theories of embodied cognition and executive function (EF) have stipulated that cognition is to some extent tied to the motor system, and so, that cognitive processing benefits from physical interaction. To date however, the research in this domain has focussed on adult populations. Ultimately, children are going to experience this UI revolution throughout the lifespan. So, in the following thesis I examined whether whole body interaction supported by a gaming floor mat improved children’s performance on a set of EF tasks. A set of new, gamified EF tasks were developed and completed using two interfaces (a floor mat and a keyboard) at separate sessions. The results revealed children were equally competent at each EF task using either device. Another notable finding was the effect of gamification on performance. The findings are discussed in the context of developmental psychology, experiment composition, and children’s interactions with technology.