Early Development of Executive Function: A Problem-Solving Framework

  title={Early Development of Executive Function: A Problem-Solving Framework},
  author={Philip David Zelazo and Alice S. Carter and Jeffrey S. Reznick and Douglas Frye},
  journal={Review of General Psychology},
  pages={198 - 226}
Executive function (EF) accounts have now been offered for several disorders with childhood onset (e.g., attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, early-treated phenylketonuria), and EF has been linked to the development of numerous abilities (e.g., attention, rule use, theory of mind). However, efforts to explain behavior in terms of EF have been hampered by an inadequate characterization of EF itself. What is the function that is accomplished by EF? The present analysis attempts to… 

Figures from this paper

How Theory of Mind and Executive Function Co-develop
Theory of mind (ToM) and executive function (EF) have traditionally been measured starting in preschool and share a similar developmental progression into childhood. Although there is some research
A Framework for Executive Function in the Late Elementary Years
This study assessed EF and related components as they are commonly presented in the neuropsychological literature, as well as the literatures of developmental, educational, and cognitive psychology, utilizing model-comparison factor analytic techniques.
The relationship between executive function and joint attention in the second year of life
Several theories of cognitive control or executive function (EF) propose that EF development corresponds to children's ability to form and reflect on represented stimuli in the environment. However,
Changes in the Cognitive Dynamics of Problem-Solving
How do humans develop the ability to approach and solve diverse, attentionally-demanding problems? Current work on problem-solving focuses on well-defined problems in which explicit task constraints
Development Patterns of Executive Functions in Children
Three different development patterns were detected, as well as different interactions between the executive components, and three empirical types were established based on the patterns and relationships between components.
Deficits in theory of mind and executive function as risk factors for conduct problems from middle childhood to early adolescence – a longitudinal perspective
In this thesis, deficits in theory of mind (ToM) and executive function (EF) were examined in tandem and separately as risk factors for conduct problems, including different forms and functions of
The development of executive function in early childhood.
The results of these studies provide the basis for a revision of the CCC theory that specifies more clearly the circumstances in which children will have difficulty using rules at various levels of complexity, provides a more detailed account of how to determine the complexity of rules required in a task, takes account of both the activation and inhibition of rules as a function of experience, and highlights the importance of taking intentionality seriously in the study of executive function.
Interventions for Executive Function Deficits in Children and Adolescents
There is limited research to suggest long-term maintenance of changes in symptom presentation, improved developmental trajectory, normalization of EF processes, or alteration to the associated neural connections.


Behavioral inhibition, sustained attention, and executive functions: constructing a unifying theory of ADHD.
  • R. Barkley
  • Psychology, Biology
    Psychological bulletin
  • 1997
A theoretical model that links inhibition to 4 executive neuropsychological functions that appear to depend on it for their effective execution is constructed and finds it to be strongest for deficits in behavioral inhibition, working memory, regulation of motivation, and motor control in those with ADHD.
Executive functions and developmental psychopathology.
It is revealed that EF deficits are consistently found in both ADHD and autism but not in CD (without ADHD) or in TS, and both the severity and profile of EF deficits appears to differ across ADHD and Autism.
The Ontogeny of Inhibition Mechanisms: A Renewed Approach to Cognitive Development
A major focus of developmental researchers has concerned the isolation of the mechanisms behind age-related improvements in cognition. Working memory capacity, metacognitive abilities, strategies,
Resistance to Interference: Developmental Changes in a Basic Processing Mechanism
Historically, theories of cognitive development have focused on two general processes: knowledge accumulation and information activation. Central to Piaget’s grand design, for example, is the notion
Executive function abilities in autism and Tourette syndrome: an information processing approach.
This study used information processing paradigms to provide a detailed examination of executive function abilities in autism and suggests a new conceptual framework and general method for investigating the cognitive underpinnings of neurodevelopmental disorders.
Neuropsychological development of behavior attributed to frontal lobe functioning in children
There has long been speculation as to the development of behaviors attributed to frontal lobe functioning in children. Controversy exists as to when behaviors attributed to frontal lobe functioning
Solving Problems with Ambiguous Subgoal Ordering: Preschoolers' Performance.
KLAHR, DAVID. Solving Problems with Ambiguous Subgoal Ordering: Preschoolers' Performance. CHILD DEVELOPMENT, 1985, 56, 940-952. Recent evidence has shown that although there are large adult-child