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Executive Function

A series by Philip David Zelazo, Ph.D.

How do we learn to think? How does an easily distracted baby become an adult who can evaluate a problem, make a plan to solve it, and carry out the plan? Executive function – the conscious control of what we think and do – takes years to develop fully and affects many different facets of children’s mental development, from their understanding of other people’s points of view to their ability to focus on a task. If executive function goes awry, it may result in disorders such as autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

In this series, Dr. Philip Zelazo takes an in-depth look at how executive function develops in infancy, childhood, and adolescence; disorders of executive function; and how to foster its development.

Dr. Zelazo is the Nancy M. and John E. Lindahl Professor at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota.

 

Executive Function Part One: What is executive function?

How do we learn to think? In the first installment of this series, Dr. Philip Zelazo explores the concept of executive function - the conscious control of what we think and do.

Executive Function Part Two: The development of executive function in infancy and early childhood

In the second installment of this series, Dr. Philip Zelazo explains how babies and young children learn how to keep ideas in mind and make plans to achieve their goals.

Executive Function Part Three: The development of executive function across the lifespan

The continuing development of executive function helps explain why three-year-olds can't resist immediate gratification and teenagers have high insurance premiums.

Executive Function Part Four: Brain growth and the development of executive function

In this installment, Dr. Zelazo discusses how various brain changes over the lifespan are correlated with changes and developments in executive function.

Executive Function Part Five: What happens when the development of executive function goes awry?

Impairments in executive function are associated with many different disorders with childhood onset, including autism and ADHD.

Executive Function Part Six: Training executive function

Children can be taught the skills involved in self-control or executive function.





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