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Lifespan CognitionMechanisms of Change$
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Ellen Bialystok and Fergus I. M. Craik

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195169539

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195169539.001.0001

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The Early Development of Executive Functions

The Early Development of Executive Functions

Chapter:
(p.70) 6 The Early Development of Executive Functions
Source:
Lifespan Cognition
Author(s):

Adele Diamond

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195169539.003.0006

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

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