Executive Function

“Executive Function”  is a relatively new term in educational psychology, finding its origin in studies in the 1980s concerning attention, cognitive control, and regulation/ or management of cognitive and emotional processes. Some of these include

  • working memory, such as remembering instructions
  • reasoning
  • flexibility
  • problem solving
  • planning, execution of plan, and prioritizing
  • multitasking
  • self-monitoring
  • task initiation
  • organization (1)

structural differences in the brain based on the family you were born into.

One’s ability to get along with other people can lead to better health, better income and less time in jail. (2)

How does it develop? It is thought that the prefrontal cortex controls behavior through interactions with other parts of the brain, although this has not been verified in all studies. (3)

“Adults can facilitate the development of a child’s executive function skills by establishing routines, modeling social behavior, and creating and maintaining supportive, reliable relationships. It is also important for children to exercise their developing skills through activities that foster creative play and social connection, teach them how to cope with stress, involve vigorous exercise, and over time, provide opportunities for directing their own actions with decreasing adult supervision.” (4)

Further suggestions are given on another understood.org page (5)

The best research I found was a scholarly article that examined

“computerized training, noncomputerized games, aerobics, martial arts, yoga, mindfulness, and school curricula. All successful programs involve repeated practice and progressively increase the challenge to executive functions. Children with worse executive functions benefit most from these activities; thus, early executive-function training may avert widening achievement gaps later. To improve executive functions, focusing narrowly on them may not be as effective as also addressing emotional and social development (as do curricula that improve executive functions) and physical development (shown by positive effects of aerobics, martial arts, and yoga)”. (4)

This post is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop



“At a Glance: 8 Key Executive Functions”
By Amanda Morin


Video Center on the Developing Child is at:






Interventions shown to Aid Executive Function Development in Children 4–12 Years Old
Adele Diamond, Kathleen Lee, Science. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2011 Aug 23.
Published in final edited form as: Science. 2011 Aug 19; 333(6045): 959–964. doi: 10.1126/science.1204529
PMCID: PMC3159917
Article PubReader PDF–2.3MCitation
accessed at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3159917/ on Jan 28, 2017