Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Acquired brain injury (ABI) can lead to a constellation of higher-order executive problems, which can significantly impact everyday behaviour. Although some neuropsychological assessments are able to objectively assess these impairments, increasingly, clinicians are finding that a subset of their patients pass these tests whilst still exhibiting difficulties in day-to-day living. Calls have therefore been made to develop assessments that are more sensitive and that are more ecologically-valid (Norris & Tate, 2000; Chaytor & Schmitter-Edgecombe, 2003; Wood & Rutherford, 2004). Virtual Reality (VR) technology offers an opportunity to address some of the limitations of the traditional tests. The Jansari assessment of Executive Functions (JEF©) is a new tool developed to address these issues through a series of experiments in the 'real world' and then VR.
JEF© is a role-playing task set within a standard business office which mimics aspects of the Multiple Errands Task (MET). Performance is evaluated on subtasks designed to test eight constructs central to executive function: Planning, Prioritisation, Selective-Thinking, Creative-Thinking, Adaptive-Thinking, Action-Based Prospective Memory (PM), Event-Based PM and Time-Based PM. A series of experiments will be presented where the sensitivity of JEF© for assessment executive functions in adults with TBI is evaluated. Then experiments demonstrating its utility as an experimental tool for investigating the impacts of a range of chemical substances on brain-intact individuals will be described. Next, new work using JEF© to demonstrate the impact of closed head injuries in contact sports will be presented addressing a growing realisation that repeated small knocks to the head can lead to cognitive impairments. In relation to this, the possibility of head injuries during childhood contributing to eventual criminal behaviour will be presented by showing the poorer performance of ex-offenders compared to non-offenders with a clear stratification based on level of head injuries before committal of first criminal act. Finally, the development of a children's version, JEF-C© will be described and the results from studies using this to assess executive functions in typically developing, atypically developing and brain-injured children will be described.
In conclusion, it will be suggested that JEF© and JEF-C© are safe ecologically-valid tasks that show great potential for becoming standard assessments of executive functions. Due to performance being evaluated across eight constructs, they also offers post-assessment tool for targeting specific vocational rehabilitation. Further, it can be used for evaluating theoretical models of executive functions. Currently, clinicians and researchers in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and India are using JEF© in their investigations while translated versions are being used in France, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Holland, Japan, Iran and Russia are using JEF© or JEF-C© to explore appropriateness for their cultures.
P.S.: The seminar will be held in English.