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Good overview of the neuroscience of executive function

Posted Mar 02 2010 12:00am

Executive function or executive control has enjoyed growing attention in the circles of children's educators. It is also very important for adults. What is executive function? From " Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control? " (New York Times):

Originally a neuroscience term, it refers to the ability to think straight: to order your thoughts, to process information in a coherent way, to hold relevant details in your short-term memory, to avoid distractions and mental traps and focus on the task in front of you.

For those of you would like to learn more about the science of executive function, click on over to the Web site of Dr. Earl K. Miller . He has posted there a chapter he coauthored for Encyclopedia of Neuroscience titled " Executive Function and Higher-Order Cognition: Definition and Neural Substrates " [pdf]. The authors say about this ability:

Executive control refers to the ability to take charge of one’s actions and direct them toward unseen aims. Virtually all theories of cognition posit that executive control requires making predictions about available goals and what means might achieve them. This knowledge can then be used to select and coordinate among a myriad of lower level, automatic sensory, memory, and motor functions.

How's your executive function?

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