APPR - Apprentissages

ATTentive at schoOL. Development of a cognitive neuroscience-based program teaching attention skills in the classroom – ATOL

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Submission summary

Executive attention involves the selection and stabilization of cognitive processes relevant for the task at hand. As such, it is understandably a prerequisite of most forms of learning. Every teacher asks his/her students to be attentive, but kids never formally learn to do so at school. As William James, one of the founder of modern psychology, wrote it : « An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence» (James, 1890). The objective of this project is to develop a program (tested and developped within the classroom) teaching kids and teenagers attention skills, based on the latest findings of cognitive neuroscience. The program is intended for every kid between 6 and 18, and not only, we insist, those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorders. Its main claim is that everyone can benefit from attention training, with long-lasting benefits throughout adulthood. Training exercices will be adapted to each age, thanks to a collraboration between teachers and researchers, around three main axis : (I) «paying attention to attention», an introduction to the neurobiology of attention to explain its strengths and weaknesses, and get kids interested in their own attention, and how to take care of it, then (II) «untangling attention», to teach pupils how to detect situations of attentional conflicts, when they try to perform together incompatible cognitive processes, and how to shift to a more organized, sequential mode, one process at a time; then finally « learning a sense of attentional balance», by getting kids to feel and correct the early signs of distraction as they manifest themselves on their motor system due to the strong coupling between perception and action in the brain.

This program will involve an already existing collaboration between researchers and teachers (through several schools within the extended Lyon area, from elementary to high-school), Our general objective is to mature a preliminary experience on the teaching of attention within that network into a fully developped, and quantatively tested program shared at the national level (national media, internet) with all schools showing interest. The efficiency of the program will be assessed by quantitative and qualitative measures, including a computerized test of the ability to sustain executive attention, developped by the principal investigators of this project (current ANR funding). It is undoubtedly an ambitious project, which aims not only at improving learning throughout the school system and to help kids struggling with that system, but more generally to provide a useful background that children and teenagers alike should be able to carry with them throughout their adult life.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Jean-Philippe LACHAUX (INSERM U1028 Dynamique cérébrale et cognition)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


INSERM INSERM U1028 Dynamique cérébrale et cognition
OGEC Externat Notre Dame Externat Notre Dame

Help of the ANR 440,413 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2014 - 42 Months

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