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Executive Functions and Self-Regulation

Executive functions are the decision-making and planning processes that are invoked at the onset of a task and in the face of a novel challenge. Fundamentally, they are directly involved with inhibition, working memory, and motor planning. Executive functions are involved in defining the problem at hand, which requires that one stop to plan and analyze rather than act. They are needed to organize one’s thoughts and actions.

Self-regulation is a sub-construct of executive functioning and is an area that can be improved in treatment through the use of programs like “How Does Your Engine Run?” Improving self-regulatory processes will increase executive control, which together, are central to cognitive, linguistic, behavioral, and affective control—all of which are fundamental to learning and success in school.

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