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The Design and Development of Instrumented Toys for the Assessment of Infant Cognitive Flexibility.

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The first years of an infant's life represent a sensitive period for neurodevelopment where one can see the emergence of nascent forms of executive function (EF), which are required to support complex cognition. Few tests exist for measuring EF during infancy, and the available tests require painstaking manual coding of infant behaviour. In modern clinical and research practice, human coders collect data on EF performance by manually labelling video recordings of infant behaviour during toy or social interaction. Besides being extremely time-consuming, video annotation is known to be rater-dependent and subjective. To address these issues, starting from existing cognitive flexibility research protocols, we developed a set of instrumented toys to serve as a new type of task instrumentation and data collection tool suitable for infant use. A commercially available device comprising a barometer and an inertial measurement unit (IMU) embedded in a 3D-printed lattice structure was used to detect when and how the infant interacts with the toy. The data collected using the instrumented toys provided a rich dataset that described the sequence of toy interaction and individual toy interaction patterns, from which EF-relevant aspects of infant cognition can be inferred. Such a tool could provide an objective, reliable, and scalable method of collecting early developmental data in socially interactive contexts.


Peer reviewed: True

Funder: Wellcome Leap 1kD Program


3D printing, barometric force sensing, ecological behavioural assessment, executive function development, inertial motion detection, instrumented toys, Humans, Infant, Cognition, Data Collection, Play and Playthings

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Sensors (Basel)

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