Dr Ashok Jansari
Dr Ashok Jansari
Lecturer in Cognitive Neuropsychology
Department of Psychology Goldsmiths,
University of London
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Clinicians are increasingly finding that a subset of their patients pass tests of executive functions (EFs) 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. The Jansari assessment of Executive Functions (JEF©) is a new tool developed to address these using non-immersive virtual reality. JEF© is a role-playing task set within a standard business office mimicking aspects of the Multiple Errands Task (MET). Performance is evaluated on subtasks designed to test eight constructs central to EF.
A series of experiments will be presented where the sensitivity of JEF© 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, work using JEF© to demonstrate the impact of closed head injuries in contact sports that may lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy 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 child’s version, JEF-C© will be described and the results from studies using this to assess EFs 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 EFs. Due to performance being evaluated across eight constructs, they also offer post-assessment tools for targeting specific vocational rehabilitation.
Dr Jansari studied Experimental Psychology at King’s College, Cambridge, followed by a PhD at the University of Sussex with Alan Parkin and then a post-doctoral fellowship in the States with Antonio Damasio and Ralph Adolphs. His research in cognitive neuropsychology has spanned amnesia, facial emotions, prosopagnosia, synaesthesia, mindfulness meditation and most notably assessment of executive disorders using a novel virtual reality task that he has developed and which has been translated into ten languages. In 2004, Dr Jansari was awarded the International Neuropsychological Society’s Cermak Award for best research in memory disorders; in 2008, a Media Fellowship by the British Association for the Advancement of Science for his skills in communicating science to the general public; and in 2014, he was taken onto the BBC’s Academy for Expert Voices. He has lectured extensively around the world and collaborates with scientists in 15 countries spanning five continents.
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