Saturday, June 2, 2018

Executive Function and Emotional Development

Executive Function and Emotional Development1M. Rosario Rueda, PhD, 2Pedro M. Paz-Alonso, PhD  1Universidad de Granada, Spain, 2Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, Spain   January 2013  The Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Development is a wonderful resource.  Here are a few excerpts:
“Executive functions are the cognitive abilities needed to control our thoughts, emotions and actions. This topic aims to increase understanding about how these functions develop, their role and their impact on a person’s social, emotional and intellectual life, from early childhood to adulthood”
“….Executive function refers to multidimensional cognitive control processes that are characterized by being voluntary and highly effortful. They include the ability to evaluate, organize and achieve goals, as well as the capacity to flexibly adapt behaviour when confronted with novel problems and situations. Evidence from cognitive development and developmental cognitive neuroscience has shown that the development of emotion regulation is strongly supported by several core executive functions, such as attention control, inhibition of inappropriate behaviours, decision making and other high cognitive processes that take place in emotionally demanding contexts.1,2”
Recent Research Results
“Evidence from multiple studies indicates that maturation of aspects of executive functioning, such as inhibitory control and executive attention, are strongly related to increased emotional understanding (in oneself and others) and regulation. Preschool children’s performance on laboratory tasks measuring inhibitory control significantly correlates with their ability to regulate their emotions.7,8 Also, children with higher attention control abilities tend to cope with anger by using non-hostile verbal methods rather than overt aggressive methods.9 Higher effortful control also correlates positively with empathy..”
Implications for Parents, Services and Policy
Increasing evidence suggests that executive function can be enhanced through cognitive training and that such interventions have the potential to enhance the efficiency of brain systems underpinning behavioural and emotional regulation skills in children16 as well as in adults.23,31,32 Recent research also shows that the development of executive control is affected by environmental factors, such as parenting and education…..”

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