GAMES Project (Gaming for Autism to Mold Executive Skills)

What if playing video games could help children with autism have better executive functioning?

The Faja lab is testing new computer games to improve executive functioning in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

So far, there have only been two published studies using interventions to improve executive functioning skills in children with ASD. In the GAMES Project, we will test whether computer games that have improved executive control, self-regulation and brain function among young, typically developing children are beneficial for children with ASD.

Eligibility for Study Participation

7-11 year olds with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders

Participation Details

Caregivers will complete 2 screening phone calls and questionnaires about their child. Children will complete 5 visits to Boston Children’s Hospital. During some visits, children will complete EEG, a non-invasive recording of brain activity. Some children will receive 5-10 x 1-hour training visits using game-like computer activities. If your child is not assigned to the training group, he/she may receive training at the end of the study if it is shown to improve executive function.

Families will potentially benefit by helping to test a new intervention. All families will receive a feedback report about their child’s development, free parking, childcare for siblings, and up to $100 for participating.

Full Description

Executive function is the ability to manage complex or conflicting information in the service of attaining a goal. It is necessary when conflicting thoughts, feelings, or responses must be resolved or a learned response must be inhibited. Executive functioning skills improve throughout development and encompass a range of interrelated domains, including inhibition, attention regulation, set-shifting and working memory.

Executive function is especially important for children with ASD because, in addition to core ASD symptoms, over half of school-age children with ASD exhibit deficits in executive function in the absence of general intellectual disability. Difficulties can start in childhood and persist throughout adulthood. The ability to manage conflicting information and perspectives is an important social skill. In particular, the ability to represent the thoughts, beliefs and feelings of others is related to executive function, above and beyond language ability and intelligence.

Research Contact

Rachel Gilbert & Akshita Vaidyanathan (Faja Laboratory)
Call: 617-919-4108