The Early Development of Executive Functions

Adele Diamond

in Lifespan Cognition

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195169539
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199847204 | DOI:
The Early Development of Executive Functions

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Executive function, also known as cognitive control or supervisory attention, is required whenever going “on automatic”. Classes of situations in which executive functions are required include novel tasks and situations that require concentration, planning, problem solving, coordination, change, conscious choices among alternatives, or overriding a strong internal or external pull. Component cognitive abilities that constitute what collectively is known as executive function include the following: inhibition, that is, the ability to ignore distraction and stay focused, and to resist making one response and instead make another; working memory, that is, the ability to hold information in mind and manipulate it; cognitive flexibility, that is, the ability to switch perspectives flexibly, focus of attention, or response mappings. These abilities are crucial to all forms of cognitive performance. The ability to inhibit attention to distractors makes possible selective and sustained attention.

Keywords: executive functions; cognitive control; problem solving; coordination; cognitive abilities; inhibition; working memory; cognitive flexibility; attention; cognitive performance

Chapter.  14585 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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