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A Classroom-Embedded Video Game Intervention Improves Executive Functions in Kindergarteners


Executive functions like working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility are a set of neurocognitive processes involved in reasoning, planning, and self-regulatory skills that allow goal-oriented behaviors. Mounting evidence supports the importance of these processes for educational success from early on. Executive functions can be improved by employing computerized activities. However, most of the evidence with gamified tasks comes from controlled studies in laboratory settings, while the efficiency of interventions deployed in real-world circumstances is scarce. Furthermore, the effectiveness of an intervention might be modulated by school socioeconomic status, but the evidence in this regard is still limited. The present study examined the efficiency of a short training program, aimed to stimulate executive functions, deployed in high- and low-socioeconomic school kindergarten classes. One hundred and thirty-six children (M = 5.30, SD = 0.36 years old) participated in a randomized, pre/post, controlled design. Data were analyzed with multilevel analysis. We found that all children that participated in the training group improved their working memory span and performance in a fluid intelligence task. Gains in inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility were observed only in children from low socioeconomic background schools. We also explored far-transfer effects on non-trained skills. We found no evidence of improved performance in a planning task, or classroom behaviors typically associated with executive functions. Our results show that it is possible to promote cognitive development in kindergarteners through video games played within classrooms of diverse sociocultural contexts.

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Data Availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.



Working memory


Inhibitory control


Cognitive flexibility


Sociocultural level


Active control


Cognitive stimulation group


Proportion of Correct Answers


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We want to thank principals, teachers, school staff, parents and children that generously participated in our study. Andrea P Goldin is Fellow of the Learning Sciences Exchange, a joint project of New America and the Jacobs Foundation.


This work was supported by ANII grants FSPI_X_2015_1_108417, ININ_1_2017_1_137164, Fundación Dr. MANUEL SADOSKY CPr.003/2013 OAT12/12, and CSIC grant 191120–000676-15.

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Authors and Affiliations



Verónica Nin: Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Data Curation, Writing—Original Draft, Visualization, Hernán Delgado: Investigation, Writing—Review & Editing, Andrea P. Goldin: Conceptualization, Writing—Review & Editing, Supervision, Funding acquisition, Diego Fernández-Slezak: Software, Writing—Review & Editing, Laouen Belloli: Software, Alejandra Carboni: Conceptualization, Writing—Review & Editing, Supervision, Funding acquisition.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Verónica Nin.

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Ethics Approval

Approval was obtained from the ethics committee of the School of Psychology of the University of the Republic, Uruguay. The procedures used in this study adhere to the tenets of the Declaration of Helsinki.

Consent to Participate

Written informed consent was obtained from the parents/legal guardians of all children. In addition, all children provided oral consent.

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Not applicable.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

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Nin, V., Delgado, H., Goldin, A.P. et al. A Classroom-Embedded Video Game Intervention Improves Executive Functions in Kindergarteners. J Cogn Enhanc 7, 19–38 (2023).

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