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Executive Function: Skills for Life and Learning

What is Executive Function?

Executive Function is at the center of our brain’s architecture. It is a set of skills that are key ingredients in our academic, social, and professional success. It’s not just about learning language, numbers, and colors anymore! 

Here are some key things to know about Executive Function as you go about your daily life:

  • Executive Function acts as the air traffic control system of the brain. It helps children (and adults) manage a lot of information and avoid distractions.
  • Executive Function involves 1) working memory, 2) inhibitory control, and 3) mental flexibility.
  • Children struggling with Executive Function will look like they are not paying attention or are deliberately not controlling themselves.
  • EF improves radically over the first few years of life, continues to improve throughout adolescence, and becomes mature in early adulthood.
  • The Prefrontal Cortex (front third of the brain) is most important for Executive Function, but interacts with other parts of the brain to function cohesively.
  • Executive Functions can be measured and improved over time! 

After watching this video, imagine how Executive Function might be most important in your life today. What parts of your life do you see Executive Function skills coming in to play the most?