> If you are interested in tools for the treatment of executive functions, visit the GameCenter Attention and executive functions

We have already written a lot about executive functions and their importance in different contexts of life and in the various age groups and we will not elaborate further on this.

Another topic that has always fascinated us a lot is the possibility that executive functions can be improved through specific training: we have therefore talked about research focused on rehabilitation of executive functions after acquired brain injury, on the working memory training in the elderly, as according to some researchers working memory training would also have an impact on intelligence or at least on the rehabilitation of aphasia, and we also explored the possibility of strengthen executive functions at school.
However, we were not satisfied with talking about it and we also made some available app to work on executive functions, and we have also shown some evidence of efficacy from scientific literature.

However, there is new research[1] which can add a new and important piece to this discussion: the strengthening of executive functions in preschool.

A group of researchers has created a group training protocol for executive functions dedicated to children of 5 years, lasting one month (divided into 12 meetings of 30 minutes each).

75 children participated in the research: 32 underwent training, 45 did not carry out the same activities but instead represented the control group.

All were evaluated with a large battery of tests for executive functions, both before and after the upgrade process, with the aim of observing the consequent improvements. The tests specifically concerned theinhibition working memory cognitive flexibility and ability to postpone gratification (basically the same tests as in one battery for the evaluation of the preschool executive functions created with the collaboration of the authors of this research).

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The results

Going to see the results in the first and second administration of tests on executive functions, it emerged that the children who participated in the training obtained a much higher increase in the scores compared to the control group. Specifically they were observed improvements in working memory, inhibition and ability to postpone gratification.


Even if these data need to be interpreted with caution (replicas of the study are needed and the use of an active control group to make sure that the results do not derive from the Rosenthal effect would be desirable), they seem to indicate a real possibility of improving executive functions already in preschool. The training carried out is also low cost and perhaps lends itself to being implemented also in the school environment. This is exactly what we will tell you about in the second part of our article: the treatment of preschool executive functions - part 2

Dr. Ivano Anemone
He deals with neuropsychology in developmental, adult and senile age. He currently collaborates in several projects concerning the cognitive aspects in some neurodegenerative diseases.

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Envying schemes helps math skillsThe treatment of executive functions in preschool - second part