Executive function refers to the goal-oriented regulation of one’s own thoughts, actions, and emotions. Its importance is attested by its contribution to the development of other cognitive skills (e.g., theory of mind), social abilities (e.g., peer interactions), and academic achievement (e.g., mathematics), and by the consequences of deficits in executive function (which are observed in wide range of developmental disorders, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism). Over the last decade, there have been growing interest in the development of executive function, and an expanding body of research has shown that executive function develops rapidly during the preschool years, with adult-level performance being achieved during adolescence or later. This recent work, together with experimental research showing the effects of interventions targeting executive function, has yielded important insights into the neurocognitive processes underlying executive function. Given the complexity of the construct of executive function, however, and the multiplicity of underlying processes, there are often inconsistencies in the way that executive function is defined and studied. This inconsistency has hampered communication among researchers from various fields. This Research Topic is intended to bridge this gap and provide an opportunity for researchers from different perspectives to discuss recent advances in understanding childhood executive function. Researchers using various methods, including, behavioral experiments, neuroimaging, eye-tracking, computer simulation, observational methods, and questionnaires, are encouraged to contribute original empirical research. In addition to original empirical articles, theoretical reviews and opinions/perspective articles on promising future directions are welcome. We hope that researchers from different areas, such as developmental psychology, educational psychology, experimental psychology, neuropsychology, neuroscience, psychiatry, computational science, etc., will be represented in the Research Topic.
Executive function maturation has been clearly documented in early childhood with increased cognitive control emerging later in the preschool years. Despite extensive research, however the associated changes in cognitive development have not been fully specified in normally developing children or children with developmental disabilities. The current study examined cognitive maturation in children three to five years of age through the development of a select number of abilities that have been consistently associated with executive functioning; namely, problem solving and inhibition. The Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS) paradigm was used to measure cognitive flexibility in relation to inhibitory capacity and problem solving skills. Through computerized manipulations of the DCCS, the contributions of negative priming and rule-based learning to perseveration behavior were investigated via accuracy and response time measures. The relationship between executive function development and individual differences in attention problem symptoms in typically developing children and those with elevated levels of symptomology was further explored. Attentional capability was assessed via teacher report measures which identified problem behaviors potentially associated with developmental delays in inhibition and attentiveness. Reaction time findings revealed significant age-related effects reflective of inhibitory maturation, as well as predictive relations between DCCS performance and individual attentional abilities. Research was inspired by the premise that early identification of attention deficits may reduce associated impairments in mental health and behavioral functioning.
This uniquely integrative book brings together research on executive function processes from leaders in education, neuroscience, and psychology. It focuses on how to apply current knowledge to assessment and instruction with diverse learners, including typically developing children and those with learning difficulties and developmental disabilities. The role of executive function processes in learning is examined and methods for identifying executive function difficulties are reviewed. Chapters describe scientifically grounded models for promoting these key cognitive capacities at the level of the individual child, the classroom, and the entire school. Implications for teaching particular content areas—reading, writing, and math—are also discussed.
Executive Function: Development Across the Life Span presents perspectives from leading researchers and theorists on the development of executive function from infancy to late adulthood and the factors that shape its growth and decline. Executive function is the set of higher-order cognitive processes involved in regulating attention, thoughts, and actions. Relative to other cognitive domains, its development is slow and decline begins early in late adulthood. As such, it is particularly sensitive to variations in environments and experiences, and there is growing evidence that it is susceptible to intervention – important because of its link to a wide range of important life outcomes. The volume is made up of four sections. It begins with an overview of executive function’s typical development across the lifespan, providing a foundation for the remainder of the volume. The second section presents insights into mechanisms of executive function, as provided by a variety of methodological approaches. The third and fourth sections review the current research evidence on specific factors that shape executive function’s development, focusing on normative (e.g., bilingualism, physical activity, cognitive training) and clinically relevant (e.g., substance use, neurodegenerative disease) developmental pathways.
A critical part of early childhood development is the development of "theory of mind" (ToM), which is the ability to take the perspective of another person. The main purpose of this book is to discuss and integrate findings from prominent research areas in developmental psychology that are typically studied in isolation, but are clearly related. Two examples are whether executive functions represent a precursor of ToM or whether ToM understanding predicts the development of executive functions, and to what extent children's level of verbal ability and their working memory are important predictors of performance on both executive functioning and ToM tasks. The chapters in this book give a detailed account of the major outcomes of this research. First, the state of the art concerning current understanding of the relevant constructs (working memory, ToM, executive functioning) and their developmental changes is presented, followed by chapters that deal with interactions among the core concepts. Its main focus is on theoretically important relationships among determinants of young children's cognitive development--considered to be "hot" issues in contemporary developmental psychology. Based on presentations made at an international workshop, this book is divided into two parts. In the first part, five teams of researchers present theoretical analyses and overviews of empirical evidence regarding the core constructs of memory, executive functions, and ToM. The next part deals with the interplay among the core concepts outlined in Part I with developmental trends in the interaction.
Executive functions develop during the first years of life and determine future learning and personal development. Executive dysfunction is related to various neurodevelopmental disorders, so its study is of great interest for intervention in children with neurotypical development and in those who have suffered a neurodevelopmental disorder. The Handbook of Research on Neurocognitive Development of Executive Functions and Implications for Intervention offers updated research on executive functions and their implication in psychoeducational intervention. It establishes a multidisciplinary context to discuss both intervention experience and research results in different areas of knowledge. Covering topics such as childhood inhibitory processing, mindfulness interventions, and language development, this major reference work is an excellent resource for psychologists, medical professionals, researchers, academicians, educators, and students.
Planning. Attention. Memory. Self-regulation. These and other core cognitive and behavioral operations of daily life comprise what we know as executive functioning (EF). But despite all we know, the concept has engendered multiple, often conflicting definitions and its components are sometimes loosely defined and poorly understood. The Handbook of Executive Functioning cuts through the confusion, analyzing both the whole and its parts in comprehensive, practical detail for scholar and clinician alike. Background chapters examine influential models of EF, tour the brain geography of the executive system and pose salient developmental questions. A section on practical implications relates early deficits in executive functioning to ADD and other disorders in children and considers autism and later-life dementias from an EF standpoint. Further chapters weigh the merits of widely used instruments for assessing executive functioning and review interventions for its enhancement, with special emphasis on children and adolescents. Featured in the Handbook: The development of hot and cool executive function in childhood and adolescence. A review of the use of executive function tasks in externalizing and internalizing disorders. Executive functioning as a mediator of age-related cognitive decline in adults. Treatment integrity in interventions that target executive function. Supporting and strengthening working memory in the classroom to enhance executive functioning. The Handbook of Executive Functioning is an essential resource for researchers, scientist-practitioners and graduate students in clinical child, school and educational psychology; child and adolescent psychiatry; neurobiology; developmental psychology; rehabilitation medicine/therapy and social work.
The essential reference for human development theory, updated and reconceptualized The Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science, a four-volume reference, is the field-defining work to which all others are compared. First published in 1946, and now in its Seventh Edition, the Handbook has long been considered the definitive guide to the field of developmental science. Volume 2: Cognitive Processes describes cognitive development as a relational phenomenon that can be studied only as part of a larger whole of the person and context relational system that sustains it. In this volume, specific domains of cognitive development are contextualized with respect to biological processes and sociocultural contexts. Furthermore, key themes and issues (e.g., the importance of symbolic systems and social understanding) are threaded across multiple chapters, although every each chapter is focused on a different domain within cognitive development. Thus, both within and across chapters, the complexity and interconnectivity of cognitive development are well illuminated. Learn about the inextricable intertwining of perceptual development, motor development, emotional development, and brain development Understand the complexity of cognitive development without misleading simplification, reducing cognitive development to its biological substrates, or viewing it as a passive socialization process Discover how each portion of the developmental process contributes to subsequent cognitive development Examine the multiple processes – such as categorizing, reasoning, thinking, decision making and judgment – that comprise cognition The scholarship within this volume and, as well, across the four volumes of this edition, illustrate that developmental science is in the midst of a very exciting period. There is a paradigm shift that involves increasingly greater understanding of how to describe, explain, and optimize the course of human life for diverse individuals living within diverse contexts. This Handbook is the definitive reference for educators, policy-makers, researchers, students, and practitioners in human development, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and neuroscience.