Ice Cream: new virtual reality tool for the assessment of executive functions in children and adolescents: a normative study

This study focuses on the obtention of normative data for participants between 8 and 16 years old who were administered the Ice Cream test, a virtual reality tool designed to evaluate executive functions. The normative sample comprised n = 821 participants (49% female), with an age range of 8 to 16 years old, recruited across nine different testing sites in Spain. Experienced evaluators in psychological assessment, recruited and trained by the developer of the test, administered the test to the recruited sample. An empirical analysis of Ice Cream identified three factors, namely planning, learning and flexibility. Descriptive normative groups by age and gender were initially provided. A homoscedasticity analysis by gender showed no statistically significant differences between male and female participants. Cluster analysis by age suggested the creation of different age groups, respectively, 8 to 11 and 12 to 16 in Planning and Flexibility, and 8 to 9 and 10 to 16 in Learning, and subsequently, descriptive data for the established age groups per factor are shown. A confirmatory factor analysis showed the suitability of the 3 factors established as measured of three differentiated executive functions. Complementary data on the validity and reliability, and internal consistency of the scales are provided. Obtained normative data are relevant for evaluating executive functions in children and adolescents in a more ecological way. Further studies are needed to determine sensitivity and specificity of Ice Cream VR test to measure executive functions in different clinical populations.

Extract from the discussion:

The present study has presented the first data that were obtained for Nesplora Ice Cream as a new ecological, virtual reality-based test for the obtention of a comprehensive profile of executive functions. More specifically, the data presented here are the first set of normative data collected for children between 8 and 16 years old, thus becoming, to our knowledge, in the first tool of its kind (a VR-based neuropsychological test for executive functions) in providing normative data of this magnitude for this age range (i.e., children and adolescents).


Fernandez MA, Rebon-Ortiz F, Saura-Carrasco M, Climent G and Diaz-Orueta U (2023) Ice Cream: new virtual reality tool for the assessment of executive functions in children and adolescents: a normative study. Front. Psychol. 14:1196964. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1196964


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