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Assessment of Motivation, Effort, and Self-Regulation (AMES)

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The Assessment of Motivation, Effort, and Self-Regulation (AMES) is an iPad app for researchers. It includes five tasks designed to assess executive functions, processing speed, delay of gratification, and motivation in children. The app has been tested extensively with children age 4 to 12 in the U.S., Ivory Coast, and Ghana.

AMES Is currently available for iPad only (6th generation or newer) through the Apple App Store. We are currently working on a version of the app for iPhone and Android smartphones. If you are a researcher who is interested in using AMES, please email for information about supporting materials and documentation, including manuals and data processing syntax files.

Languages: The app currently includes English, Spanish, Cantonese, and Ivorian French translations.

Administration: AMES can be administered to children individually or in groups. Children can use headphones to listen to instructions read by Siri. The instructions also appear on the screen in simple, developmentally appropriate language.

This work is funded by Technology for Equity in Learning Opportunities at Stanford (TELOS), the Spencer Foundation, and an SRCD-Jacobs Foundation initiative, Development in the Digital Age.

Introductory AMES app screen with logo

Customization: Many game settings can be changed to accommodate the needs of different study designs and to change the difficulty level of tasks for children of different ages. For example, the number of test blocks, the number of practice and test trials, and the length of time that children have to respond to each trial can easily be adjusted using check boxes and sliders. Tasks can be re-ordered or removed from the test battery.

AMES Settings Menu

Hearts and Flowers Game. This game measures inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility, two components of executive functions. There are three blocks: hearts, flowers, and mixed. In all three blocks, a red heart or flower appears on the right or left side of the screen. In the first block (congruent hearts), the child is instructed to touch a button on the same side as the heart. In the second block (incongruent flowers), the child is instructed to touch a button on the opposite side from the flower. In the third and final block, the child is presented with a mix of hearts and flowers and need to flexibly switch between the two rules (heart = same side; flower = opposite side). Performance is measured using accuracy (percent correct) and reaction time for each block.

AMES Flowers Game Instructions

Memory Game. This spatial game measures short-term and working memory. The child views a sequence of colored squares on a grid. In the first block, the child is instructed to reproduce the sequence in the same order. In the second block, the child is instructed to reproduce the sequence in reverse order. The length of the sequences increases until participants can no longer answer correctly. Performance is measured using the maximum correct sequence length and the total number of correct answers.

Driving Game. This game measures delay of gratification. The child is instructed to win as many points as possible, and are asked to repeatedly choose between three vehicles: a fast car, a slow truck, and a very slow bus. After choosing a vehicle, there is a delay before points are awarded. The slower vehicles impose a longer delay, but award more points. Delay of gratification is measured by the total number of points across a fixed number of trials.