A developmental perspective on executive function

Child Dev. 2010 Nov-Dec;81(6):1641-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01499.x.


This review article examines theoretical and methodological issues in the construction of a developmental perspective on executive function (EF) in childhood and adolescence. Unlike most reviews of EF, which focus on preschoolers, this review focuses on studies that include large age ranges. It outlines the development of the foundational components of EF-inhibition, working memory, and shifting. Cognitive and neurophysiological assessments show that although EF emerges during the first few years of life, it continues to strengthen significantly throughout childhood and adolescence. The components vary somewhat in their developmental trajectories. The article relates the findings to long-standing issues of development (e.g., developmental sequences, trajectories, and processes) and suggests research needed for constructing a developmental framework encompassing early childhood through adolescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development*
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Cognition*
  • Executive Function*
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*