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The Learning Lead - Volume 4, 2020 - Nutrition and Executive Functions in Children

The Learning Lead - Volume 4, 2020 - Nutrition and Executive Functions in Children

The ability to coordinate one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions depends on the development of a specific set of cognitive processes responsible for cognitive control and purposeful and goal-directed behavior called executive functions (EFs).1 As such, EFs are considered important building blocks for learning and creativity in children.1,2

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EFs include three core, interrelated functions:

  • Inhibitory control: Ability to suppress automatized or predominant responses, which allows one to focus attention and control or self-regulate behavior, thoughts, and emotions to override a strong internal response predisposition.1
  • Working memory: Ability to update information while executing tasks, which involves holding multiple pieces of information in mind and mentally working with them.1
  • Cognitive flexibility: Ability to switch between cognitive sets or tasks and flexibly adjust to changed demands or priorities.Cognitive flexibility is closely linked to creativity as it is critical for seeing things from new and different perspectives.1,3
Reference
  1. Diamond A. Annu Rev Psychol. 2013;64:135-68.
  2. Collins A, et al. PLoS Biol. 2012;10(3):e1001293.
  3. Mulder H, et al. Front Psychol. 2017;8:1706.