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Executive Function in Preschool Children: Current Knowledge & Research Opportunities

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June 8–9, 2010


Child Development and Behavior (CDB) Branch, Center for Research for Mothers and Children (CRMC), NICHD; University of Kansas Merrill Advanced Studies Center; Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, NIH; National Institute on Drug Abuse; Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education; Administration for Children and Families, DHHS


Marriott Bethesda North, Rockville, Maryland


Recent research suggests that early executive function (EF) skill development provides the critical foundation for school readiness and self regulation. However, there is no consistent definition or conceptualization of EF competence in the earliest years. Nor is there agreement on how best to measure the construct or its components in the preschool period. This workshop brings together basic neurodevelopmental and translational researchers for a roundtable discussion of research on EF skill development in preschoolers. The purpose of the workshop is to review the current state of the research on EF competence in preschoolers, to consider how best to define the construct of EF, and to propose promising areas of research ripe for advancement and translation. This workshop will focus on addressing these areas and their translational implications, such as novel interventions to improve EF skills in young children from risk groups or disadvantaged backgrounds and to build an agenda for future basic and translational research in EF development in the preschool period.

Specifically, the goals of the workshop are to:

  • Increase uniform conceptualization and measurement of EF skill development;
  • Specify the developmental trajectory of EF in preschoolers;
  • Review what is known in the scientific literature about the neurobiological mechanisms and neurocircuitry underlying the development of EF;
  • Understand the role of EF in risk and resilience; and
  • Highlight translational implications leading to novel interventions designed to improve or enhance early EF skill development.

Invited participants represent diverse fields such as developmental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, early education, and applied/clinical psychology. A broad dissemination of the knowledge shared at this collaborative meeting will take the form of an article, thematic issue in a peer-reviewed journal, or an edited volume.

For more Information


Dr. Rebecca DelCarmen-Wiggins, CDB Branch, CRMC, NICHD
Tel: (301) 496-7685

Last Reviewed: 11/30/2012
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