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Psychobiology of Executive Functions in Early Development

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Martha Ann Bell, Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Research on early executive functions (EF) affords the opportunity to examine brain development from neuroscience and psychobiological perspectives. By focusing on executive functions, we can learn about fundamental changes in brain functioning from infancy through the preschool years. Focusing on executive functions also allows us to examine the impact of developing regulatory skills on early cognitive processes. Work that highlights individual differences in early executive function skills is critical for understanding both cognitive and emotional development.

This talk addressed the following:

  1. value of using psychobiological framework to examine individual differences in development of EF in preschool children
  2. age correlations among EF tasks
  3. year-to-year correlations among EF tasks
  4. correlates of individual differences in EF performance (brain electrical activity, emotion, regulation, attention)
  5. questions to ponder—potential impact of child temperament and parenting behaviors in EF development.

Bell Presentation Slides (PDF - 811 KB)

Biosketch for Martha Ann Bell, Ph.D.

Dr. Martha Ann Bell is Professor of Psychology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). Her research specialization is developmental cognitive neuroscience, and she examines early developmental change in frontal lobe functioning. Her current work, funded by the NICHD, focuses, on individual differences in the development of executive functions and self-regulation across infancy and early childhood. Dr. Bell is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Division 7, Developmental), a member of the Psychosocial Development, Risk, and Prevention (PDRP) study section, and the Editor of the journal Infancy.

Return to Executive Function in Preschool Children: Current Knowledge and Research Opportunities - Agenda page.

Last Reviewed: 11/30/2012
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