Using a Game Like Procedure as a Test of Executive Functions in Children


The thesis explores the use of a novel assessment tool called the Alien Game, which aims to measure concept formation (CF) abilities in children aged 6 to 11 years. CF is a key component of executive functions (EFs), which are higher-order cognitive processes that enable flexible and goal-directed behavior. EFs are important for academic achievement, social functioning, and mental health. However, existing tests of CF are often limited by cultural bias, linguistic demands, and low ecological validity. The Alien Game was designed to overcome these limitations by using a game-like format that involves sorting aliens into categories based on their features.


Examine the the Alien Game

The thesis consists of four studies that examine the validity, reliability, and utility of the Alien Game.


Psychometric properties

The first study investigates the psychometric properties of the Alien Game and compares it with two established tests of concept formation (CF) : the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and the Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS). The results show that the Alien Game has good internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and convergent validity with the WCST and the DCCS.


Developmental trajectory of CF abilities

The second study explores the developmental trajectory of concept formation (CF) abilities using the Alien Game and the DCCS across different age groups. The results indicate that CF abilities improve with age, and that the Alien Game is more sensitive to age-related differences than the DCCS.


Effects of socioeconomic status and language background

The third study examines the effects of socioeconomic status (SES) and language background on concept formation (CF) performance using the Alien Game and the WCST. The results reveal that SES and language background have no significant impact on CF performance, suggesting that the Alien Game is more culturally fair than the WCST.


Feasibility and acceptability

The fourth study evaluates the feasibility and acceptability of the Alien Game as an intervention tool for children with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The results demonstrate that the Alien Game is well-received by children with NDDs and their parents, and that it can improve concept formation (CF) skills and self-regulation in children with ASD.



The thesis concludes that the Alien Game is a valid, reliable, and useful measure of concept formation (CF) abilities in children, and that it has potential applications for assessment, intervention, and research in clinical and educational settings. The thesis also discusses the limitations, implications, and future directions of the research



Q1. What are executive functions and why are they important?


Ans. Executive functions are a set of cognitive processes that enable us to plan, organize, monitor, and control our thoughts, actions, and emotions. They are important for various aspects of our daily functioning, such as learning, problem-solving, decision-making, self-regulation, and social interaction.


Q2. How are concept formation abilities related to executive functions?


Ans. Concept formation is the ability to identify and categorize common features or patterns among different stimuli. It is related to executive functions because it involves working memory, attention, inhibition, flexibility, and reasoning. Concept formation helps us to understand and generalize information, as well as to adapt to changing situations.


Q3. What are the problems with current tests of concept formation?


Ans. Current tests of concept formation, such as the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and the Category Test, have several limitations. They are often time-consuming, complex, boring, and culturally biased. They also rely on verbal instructions and feedback, which may not be suitable for some populations, such as children, older adults, or people with language impairments.


Q4. How does the Alien Game measure concept formation abilities in a game-like way?


Ans. The Alien Game is a novel computerized test of concept formation that was developed by the researcher of the study. It uses a game-like format to make the task more engaging and motivating for the participants. The Alien Game presents the participants with a series of images of aliens that vary in four features: color, shape, eyes, and mouth. The participants have to figure out the rule that determines which aliens belong to the same group, based on the feedback they receive after each response. The Alien Game measures the participants’ accuracy, speed, and number of errors in applying the rule.




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top