Article Title: Executive Function: What Does It Mean? Why Is It Important? How Can We Help?

Author: Mark Katz, PhD

Date of Publication: Summer 2014

“The term ‘executive function’ is being used throughout educational circles, from preschool classrooms to university research labs. But what exactly is it and how does it influence school success?

To complete tasks, reach goals, solve problems, and successfully navigate our social world, we rely on our executive function, 1. a family of mental processes that includes working memory; skills in organization, planning, and time management; and self-control and emotional self-regulation, among others. 2. While we typically see these mental processes discussed separately, they actually work in harmony. In fact, it’s our ability to successfully synchronize these processes that allows us to navigate the world. Experts in the field have used different metaphors to describe this process and its coordination: our brain’s orchestra conductor, air traffic control system, or chief executive officer.

Executive function is getting a great deal of attention lately for good reason. How well it works is an important predictor of who will succeed in school and who will not. And if we can predict problems of executive function, we can prevent them.”

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