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Executive functions facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

Executive Functions are a set of mental abilities in the human brain that are responsible and necessary for someone to be able to control their behavior. Executive Functions include:

  • Attentional Control - the ability to choose what to pay attention to
  • Cognitive Inhibition - the ability to tune out distractions
  • Inhibitory Control - the ability to practice restraint
  • Working Memory - the ability to store information temporarily in order to effectively perform complex tasks
  • Cognitive Flexibility - the ability to think about multiple things at the same time, and to switch between tasks

Individual Function Descriptions

Attentional Control

Cognitive Inhibition

Inhibitory Control

Working Memory

Cognitive Flexibility

Physical Properties

The Prefrontal Cortex

In cases of diseases and/or disorders

Executive functions are primarily controlled from a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which relies on a regulated, adequate supply of dopamine. In cases of addiction, ADHD, autism, and other nervous-system disorders, it is possible for this part of the brain to only receive a portion of the dopamine that it needs in order to work at full capacity. As a result an individual can lose partial or even complete control of these mental abilities. It is possible that by increasing dopamine production in the brain by medication, exercise, or a variety of other methods, the prefrontal cortex can receive additional dopamine, and the person can regain control of some or all of these functions.

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