Executive Function: Development Across the Life Span, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Executive Function

Development Across the Life Span, 1st Edition

Edited by Sandra A. Wiebe, Julia Karbach


286 pages

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Executive Function: Development Across the Life Span presents perspectives from leading researchers and theorists on the development of executive function from infancy to late adulthood and the factors that shape its growth and decline. Executive function is the set of higher-order cognitive processes involved in regulating attention, thoughts, and actions. Relative to other cognitive domains, its development is slow and decline begins early in late adulthood. As such, it is particularly sensitive to variations in environments and experiences, and there is growing evidence that it is susceptible to intervention – important because of its link to a wide range of important life outcomes.

The volume is made up of four sections. It begins with an overview of executive function’s typical development across the lifespan, providing a foundation for the remainder of the volume. The second section presents insights into mechanisms of executive function, as provided by a variety of methodological approaches. The third and fourth sections review the current research evidence on specific factors that shape executive function’s development, focusing on normative (e.g., bilingualism, physical activity, cognitive training) and clinically relevant (e.g., substance use, neurodegenerative disease) developmental pathways.


‘This volume makes a superlative addition to the growing corpus of research on executive function. By bringing together chapters on executive function across the life span and placing them in social, cultural, and clinical contexts, this volume is likely to spark interest and innovative thinking among researchers, undergraduate and graduate students, and practitioners.’ - Cybele Raver, New York University, USA

‘A fantastic state-of-the-art compilation about the development of executive function provided by a careful selection of experts from around the world. A book to keep within reach of those interested in this central aspect of human development!’ - M. Rosario (Charo) Rueda, University of Granada, Spain

‘This compendium serves as an introduction to research on executive functions, the set of basic cognitive processes that support goal-directed behavior. It is likely to be the broadest overview to date on this topic, covering a range of ages, populations, and approaches. Collectively, the chapters examine how executive functioning changes from infancy through old age, and how it is affected by environmental influences and various disorders. A variety of methods are featured, including behavioral, neuroimaging, and genetic research, as well as computational modeling. The chapters are brief and clearly written, and point the interested reader to the primary literature for more in-depth coverage of these topics.’ - Silvia Bunge, University of California, Berkeley, USA

Table of Contents

Introduction: Development and Plasticity of Executive Function across the Life Span Sandra A. Wiebe and Julia Karbach

Part I: Characterizing Executive Function Development across the Life Span

1. Emergence of Executive Function in Infancy Kimberly Cuevas, Vinaya Rajan, and Lauren J. Bryant

2. Executive Function in Early and Middle Childhood Nicolas Chevalier and Caron A. C. Clark

3. Executive Function Development in Adolescence Eveline A. Crone, Sabine Peters, and Nikolaus Steinbeis

4. Executive Function Development in Aging Karen Z. H. Li, Kiran K. Vadaga, Halina Bruce, and Laurence Lai

Part II: Understanding Mechanisms of Executive Function Development and Plasticity

5. Neural Mechanisms of Executive Function Development during Early Childhood Yusuke Moriguchi

6. Aging and the Neural Correlates of Executive Function Robert West

7. Genetic Influences on Executive Functions across the Life Span James J. Li and Delanie K. Roberts

8. Computational Models of Executive Function Development Aaron T. Buss

Part III: Environmental, Cultural, and Lifestyle Factors that Shape Executive Function Development across the Life Span

9. Adversity and Stress: Implications for the Development of Executive Functions Jenna E. Finch and Jelena Obradović

10. Parental Influences on Children's Executive Function: A Differentiated Approach Claire Hughes and Rory T. Devine

11. Bilingualism and the Development of Executive Function in Children: The Interplay of Languages and Cognition Gregory J. Poarch and Janet G. van Hell

12. Physical Activity, Exercise, and Executive Functions Nicolas Berryman, Kristell Pothier, and Louis Bherer

13. Cognitive Training to Promote Executive Functions Matthias Kliegel, Alexandra Hering, Andreas Ihle, and Sascha Zuber

Part IV: Atypical Patterns of Executive Function Development across the Life Span

14. Executive Dysfunction in Very Preterm Children and Associated Brain Pathology Elisha K. Josev and Peter J. Anderson

15. Executive Functions and Developmental Psychopathology: Neurobiology of Emotion Regulation in Adolescent Depression and Anxiety Kristina L. Gelardi, Veronika Vilgis, and Amanda E. Guyer

16. Executive Function and Substance Misuse: Neurodevelopmental Vulnerabilities and Consequences of Use Monica Luciana and Emily Ewan

17. Trajectories and Modifiers of Executive Function: Normal Aging to Neurodegenerative Disease G. Peggy McFall, Shraddha Sapkota, Sherilyn Thibeau, and Roger A. Dixon

About the Editors

Sandra A. Wiebe is a developmental cognitive scientist who studies executive function in childhood. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute at the University of Alberta, Canada.

Julia Karbach is a developmental psychologist who studies neurocognitive development and plasticity across the life span. She is a Professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany.

About the Series

Frontiers of Developmental Science

Frontiers of Developmental Science is a series of edited volumes that aims to deliver inclusive developmental perspectives on substantive areas in psychology. Interdisciplinary and life-span oriented in its objectives and coverage, the series underscores the dynamic and exciting status of contemporary developmental science. The goal of Frontiers of Developmental Science is to bring together within each volume many of the leading scientists on fundamental aspects of human development. In each volume, authors and editors strive to integrate distinct theoretical and methodological perspectives, and to offer critical information for future directions in scholarship and practice. Alongside a traditional table of contents, each volume also features a cross-cutting themes chart that shows which chapters align with specific cross-cutting themes pertinent to the field of developmental science. Current and forthcoming volumes span social cognition to executive function, genetic and epigenetic processes, motor development, emotion regulation, and educational neuroscience.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / General