Executive Functions

What are Executive Functions?

“Executive functions” refer to the collection of cognitive skills that we all use every day in order to achieve our goals.

They allow us to make plans, finish work on time, cope with distractions, ask for help, figure out whether something is a good idea and take turns. They also help us not to over-react to small problems and to focus on more than one thing at a time, to make decisions, check for mistakes and change plans if we need to  – all the things we need to make life easier at school and work.

Executive functions include:

  • Working memory
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Inhibition
  • Attention skills
  • Planning

These skills begin to develop in infancy and develop, grow and mature into adulthood. If children have any executive function difficulties, these become more apparent when children are in primary and secondary school, as children become more independent in organising themselves, their time, and homework etc.

Music and Executive Functions

We are presently preparing to extend our 2017 pilot study with pre-schoolers. In this next stage we will trial a carefully prepared model of musical curricula that systematically promotes and challenges executive functions in 3-to-4 year old children. This project is in collaboration with the arts charity Creative Futures.

You can read about our 2017 pilot study here.