Executive Function Training Enables Achievement

An NIH study suggests that early executive function skill instruction may help at-risk and ADHD students close the achievement gap.

Monday December 17th - 9:05am

ADHD is associated with problems in executive functions, the high-level performance tasks of the brain that are sometimes referred to as “cognitive control skills.” These include memory retrieval and the ability to block out distraction. While some children have a genetic or biological bias toward developing ADHD, a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that cognitive skills training may help enhance executive function abilities.

The study randomly assigned “at-risk,” low-income preschoolers to a standard curriculum program or to the “Tools of the Mind” curriculum, which includes executive function education. They found that after one or two years the children who received cognitive skill instruction performed significantly better than their peers.

Besides its link to ADHD, researchers have found that poor executive functioning is connected to poor school performance, drug use, and criminal behavior. Using tools that enhance cognitive control skills in early education might help children of low-income families as well as those with ADHD or another Learning Disability to achieve success in school.

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