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Executive Function

By | April 2013
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Executive function is a very important aspect of development. It is our brain’s functions that we, as people, use to manage our emotions, attention, and our behavior in the pursuit of our goals. A child’s executive functions start to develop in their very early years but it doesn’t fully mature until early adulthood. Some scientists, psychologists, and researchers even say that executive functions in children are better predictors of a child’s success than IQ tests. Adele Diamond, a researcher, stated, “More and more evidence is showing that executive functions, such as working and inhibition, actually predict success better than IQ tests,”.

Since all of this research is saying that we can predict how well a child is going to succeed in school at an early age, let’s focus on preschool. Executive function consists of three parts. These parts are working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive/mental flexibility. In preschool aged children, an example of working memory would be the child’s ability to remember what happened at the beginning of the story by the time the story was finished. The child is able to hold information for short periods of time. An example of inhibitory control in preschool aged children would be not stealing a toy from a classmate. The child is able to control their responses and act appropriately. Lastly, and example of cognitive/mental flexibility in preschoolers would be a child’s ability to go outside from inside. The child is able to transition between opposite tasks. If a child is able to do all of this, their executive function is developing regularly.

If a child doesn’t have good executive function, they may have disorders such as ADHD or autism. Typically with these disorders, the executive function is impaired in some way or form. When a child’s executive function is impaired it is also linked with other types of behavioral disorders. These disorders include limited self-control, lack or restraint, addiction, and failure...
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