Volume 81, Issue 6 p. 1641-1660

A Developmental Perspective on Executive Function

John R. Best

John R. Best

University of Georgia

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Patricia H. Miller

Patricia H. Miller

University of Georgia

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First published: 15 November 2010
Citations: 1,495
concerning this article should be addressed to Patricia H. Miller, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. Electronic mail may be sent to [email protected].

Support for this work was provided in part by a grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (Grant RO1 DK70922-01). We thank Lara Jones, Katherine Davis, Philip Tomporowski, and Jack Naglieri for reading and offering comments on an earlier draft.

Abstract

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.