Unlocking Attention: Skylar’s Run and It’s Comprehensive Cognitive Skills Training Program

Skylar’s Run Includes A Highly Curated Cognitive Skills Curriculum That Is Embedded In A Series Of 15 Missions Delivered Over The Course Of 8 Weeks.

What makes Skylar’s Run different from other brain training videogames? Skylar’s Run is not just a cognitive training application consisting of boring tasks that require you to tap a light as fast as you can. Skylar’s Run combines cognitive skills training with an EEG headset that enables the player to use their attention to control the speed of the character. The longer the child maintains their highest level of attention during each game challenge, the greater the retention of the 13 targeted cognitive skills needed to increase success in school, home and social settings. When used in the context of video games, cognitive skills trainings can harness the exciting, engaging, and challenging nature of video games while also teaching important skills we need to learn new information and remain goal oriented. The cognitive skills that Skylar’s Run targets are especially important for children who struggle with inattention and impulsivity.

Skylar’s run includes a highly curated cognitive skills curriculum that is embedded in a series of 15 missions delivered over the course of 8 weeks (head to this blog post on how the EEG headset works). Skylar’s run dynamically adapts the challenge level within each mission according to the player’s current ability level. The 13 cognitive skills targeted in Skylar’s Run can be grouped into 3 main categories: 1) attention and focus, 2) impulse control (behavior inhibition), and 3) self-regulation (described further below). Each mission targets a specific set of skills. The first 3 missions only target focused and sustained attention because one needs to develop core attention skills before mastering the rest of the cognitive skills. Below we define each of the 13 cognitive skills, the missions that target each skill (some skills are targeted across all missions), and examples of how the skills apply to the real world:


Skill  Level/Missions Definition Real World Applications
Focused Attention Missions: 1 through 15 Turn attention towards a task in a fast manner, able to start a task (Barkley, 1997) Sit down and open a book to read it, focus attention on teacher when she says “class, listen up!”, Focus attention on parent when he says, “please focus on this direction”, start homework on their own, put glove up quickly to catch a line drive
Sustained Attention Missions: 1 through 15 Focus on a task for a long period of time; ability to maintain attention (Barkley, 1997; Pozuelos et al., 2014) Focus for a long period of time on a class activity, hold a karate pose, sit through an entire meal, read an entire chapter of a book without taking a break
Selective Attention Missions: 7, 8, 9 ,14 Focus on a task while ignoring distracting or unimportant information, focus on only the important information (Stevens & Bavelier, 2012; Tucha et al., 2006) Focus on one question at a time on a test, stay on-task in class activities despite competing distractions, complete group work while classmates are doing irrelevant tasks around them
Alternating Attention Missions: 10, 11, 12, 15 Switch focus between important tasks (see Commodari, 2017; Tucha et al., 2006) Pause homework to go help a parent with something and then return back to homework, stop engaging in an activity in class in order to listen to an announcement from your teacher and then be able to go back to the activity, switch between reading directions for building a Lego piece and actually building the piece
Divided Attention Missions: 10, 11, 12, 15 Focus on two or more tasks or things at once (Braun, 1988; Savage et al., 2006; Tucha et al., 2006) Help a parent make dinner while watching a TV show, complete an activity while listening to a friend tell a story, complete an activity in class while listening to instructions from the teacher
Cognitive Inhibition Missions: 1 through 15 Minimize distraction from irrelevant thoughts, minimize daydreaming (Friedman & Miyake, 2004; Nigg, 2000) Daydream less, listen to a teacher in class without thinking about how you will perform in your soccer game occurring later that afternoon, complete homework the day before vacation and minimize thoughts about what you will do on vacation, limit negative thoughts about performing poorly on an upcoming test
Behavioral Inhibition Missions: 4 through 15 Suppress or minimize impulsive responses, exhibits impulse control (Barkley, 1997) Uses self-control to resist impulsive outbursts in class and at home, waits to speak in class until they are called on by a teacher (does not call out), lets a friend finish a story without interrupting
Interference Control Missions: 7, 8, 9 ,14 Does not get distracted from irrelevant information (Friedman & Miyake, 2004; Cao et al., 2013; Nigg, 2000) Ignores a sibling when they are being bothersome and instead focuses on homework, ignores construction going on outside and instead focuses on class assignment
Motivational Inhibition Missions: 4 through 15 Modify or improve behavior in response to punishments or rewards (Shuster & Toplak, 2008; Nigg, 2000) After being in a timeout for fighting with a sibling, plays nicely with the sibling; willing to play another round of Trouble right after losing to a friend
Novelty Inhibition Missions: 13, 14, 15 Minimize distraction from new stimuli or information (BArkley, 1997; Fox et al., 2005) Experiences less first day of school jitters, able to accept and perform “unplanned” tasks, able to focus in class and stay on task even when there is a new student
Delay of Gratification Missions: 4 through 15 Able to wait longer for a better or larger reward instead of opting for immediately receiving a reward of lesser value (Doidge et al., 2021) Stays in seat instead of jumping out of seat in order to get a reward, able to save birthday money in order to buy an expensive toy
Inner Voice Missions: 1 through 15 Uses an “inner dialogue” to motivate, guide, and regulate behavior and actions (Alderson-Daa & Fernyhough, 2015; Morin, 2005)* When engaging in a difficult homework assignment, uses self-talk (e.g., “I can do this”) to persevere and complete the task, reminds themselves about how much they practiced for this moment when walking up to the plate at a baseball game
Self-Regulation Missions: 4 through 15 Remain goal oriented, modifies behavior in response to future goals and past outcomes; ability to modify behavior when it is appropriate (Shiels & Hawk, 2010) Plans to suppress desire to get out of seat on moving bus and instead chooses to read a comic book; after receiving a bad grade on a test, makes a plan to study every night before the next test

* The definitional approach we take to inner voice stems more from developmental psychology who sees inner dialogue as a skill used to regulate one’s own behavior and cognition. We recognize that inner speech has other functions in the context of rehearsal; (i.e., repeating information to oneself to promote memory)


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