So...What are Executive Functions Anyway?

I see this term start to show up more and more in the educational lexicon, so I thought it might be a good idea to find a working definition and put it out there for the readers.

This is from the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders:

The term executive function describes a set of cognitive abilities that control and regulate other abilities and behaviors. Executive functions are necessary for goal-directed behavior. They include the ability to initiate and stop actions, to monitor and change behavior as needed, and to plan future behavior when faced with novel tasks and situations. Executive functions allow us to anticipate outcomes and adapt to changing situations. The ability to form concepts and think abstractly are often considered components of executive function.


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