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Executive Functioning Development

Resources for Professionals

Articles     |     Books     |     Activities     |     EF APPS     |     EF Projects

Recent Articles on Executive Functioning  

A Developmental Perspective on Executive Function 

By John Best, Ph.D., NIH, (2010)

This review paper examines theoretical and methodological issues in the construction of a developmental perspective on executive function (EF) in childhood and adolescence. The paper relates the findings to longstanding issues of development (e.g., developmental sequences, trajectories, and processes) and suggests research needed for constructing a developmental framework encompassing early childhood through adolescence.

The Impacts of Video Games on Cognition: How the Government Can Guide the Industry

By C. Shawn Green, Ph.D., Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2015)

Article indicating the benefit of Commerical Video Games for Brain Training versus specific APPs designed for brain training. “Action video games have been linked to improving attention skills, brain processing, and cognitive functions including low-level vision through high-level cognitive abilities. [Ironically], Brain games typically embody few of the qualities of the commercial video games linked with cognitive improvement.”

A Cognitive-Behavior Therapy and Mentoring Program for College Students With ADHD

By Arthur Anastopoulos, Ph.D.,  Science (2015)

Students with ADHD that attend college face increased risk for dropping out of college, and many known negative life outcomes for which they may be at increased risk later as adults. Findings have revealed that significant increases in ADHD knowledge affect the use of organizational skills and result in reductions in maladaptive thinking. 

Interventions Shown to Aid Executive Function Development in Children.  

By Adele Diamond, Ph.D.,  Science (2011) 

To be successful takes creativity, flexibility, self-control, and discipline. Central to all those are executive functions, including mentally playing with ideas, giving a considered rather than an impulsive response, and staying focused. Diverse activities have been shown to improve children’s executive functions include: computerized training, noncomputerized games, aerobics, martial arts, yoga, mindfulness, and school curricula. All successful programs involve repeated practice and progressively increasing the challenge to executive functions. Children with worse executive functions benefit most from these activities; thus, early executive function training may avert widening achievement gaps later. To improve executive functions, focusing narrowly on them may not be as effective as also addressing emotional and social development (as do curricula that improve executive functions) and physical development (shown by positive effects of aerobics, martial arts, and yoga). 

Books on Executive Functioning Development

The CEO of Self:
An Executive Functioning Workbook  
   by Jan Johnston Tyler
Rating: ★★★★   

Smart but Scattered:
The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential 
   by Dawson and Guare
Rating: ★★★★★   

Executive Skills:
A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention
   by Dawson and Guare
Rating: ★★★★★   

Late, Lost, and Unprepared:
A Parents' Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning
   by Joyce Cooper-Kahn
Rating: ★★★★★   

Train Your Brain for Success:
A Teenager's Guide to Executive Functions
   by Randy Kulman
Rating: ★★★★★   

Harvard: The Developing Child

Executive Functioning Skills: Activities Guide

Enhancing and Practicing Executive Functioning Skills 

This online professional development module discusses the science of executive function and self-regulation and how adult caregivers can help children build these skills. Working in collaboration with Frontiers of Innovation leadership, the Washington State Department of Early Learning developed this module. The module takes about 90 minutes or less to complete, with the option to stop and resume later.

Project LearnNET

By: Mark Ylvisaker and Tim Feeney

Executive Functioning Competencies:

Problem Solving
Self-Monitoring and Self-Evaluating
Flexibility Versus Rigidity In Thinking and Behavior
Impulsiveness / Disinhibition           
Inconsistency in Performance                        
Self-Regulation / Executive Function Routines  
Transition Routines                                       
Cognitive Egocentrism / Theory of Mind                 

Frontiers of Innovation Projects (Harvard)

This 5-minute video depicts the science-driven hypothesis that currently undergirds FOI intervention strategies: in order to achieve breakthrough outcomes for children, we must actively build the self-regulation skills, executive functioning, and mental health of the adults who care for them.

FOI is driving science-based innovation through a diverse portfolio of on-the-ground projects that form a dynamic learning community. No two projects look the same, but they share a set of key approaches (see below) as well as an overarching theory of change


APPS for Executive Functioning         (APPS for Other Issues)

The Stroop Effect

Check your ability to focus your mind despite interference! We invite you to test yourself with the so-called Stroop Test adopted for iPad. 

Mindjet Mapping

Mindjet Maps for iPad® lets you easily enter ideas, tasks, and meeting notes into intuitive visual maps that help you quickly organize concepts and prioritize action items. Instantly create new maps or import them from Mindjet Connect®. 


Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve your productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, snap photos, create to-do lists, scan business cards, record voice reminders--and it makes everything searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go.

Evernote Peek

Evernote Peek is a learning app designed for the iPad 2 Smart Cover. No Smart Cover? No problem! The new Virtual Cover lets any iPad get in on the fun. Studying with an iPad has never been more natural. Simply peek under the cover to prepare for a quiz, practice a language or strengthen your memory.

Aces Traffic Pack

Aces Traffic Pack contains 230 puzzles! Test your strategic thinking with varying traffic puzzle difficulties, maneuver your car and others around parking lots and traffic jams to set your car free! Make sure to watch out for objects such as potholes and rocks that we’ve placed in areas to increase your problem-solving skills!



This app allows you to take notes in your own handwriting, which is then converted to digital text. The Shorthand Editor lets you enter frequently used words or phrases that then auto fill into the text.  


Towers of HanOINK!

All this list making and organization is great, but let's have some fun! The app is based on the classic Towers of Hanoi game.  Remember that game with the 3 wooden rods and different sized discs? You could only move one at a time and you couldn't put a larger one on top of a smaller one. This is that game in app form using different sized animals instead of discs.

Idea Sketch This is another app for older students. It allows you to create concept maps, flow charts and then converts it to a text outline.  It a fabulous resource for planning projects, making lists, developing outlines or creating charts. You can import content from other apps, documents or emails and share "sketches" with others through email, or the cloud.