This article by Betsy Hill and Roger Stark was published by the Learning Counsel.
As we learn about the role of cognitive skills in academic performance, we become increasingly aware of the importance of the subset of cognitive skills known as Executive Functions. Executive Functions are the directive capacities of our brains—how we manage information, plan and decide, act or stop ourselves from acting, adapt to unexpected situations.
While individual cognitive skills can be stronger or weaker, it is the elegance of the choreography, the way all these capacities integrate, flow and work together that makes up our overall intelligence.
Executive Functions play a vital role in the choreography. Sometimes people use the analogy of the orchestra conductor where the brain’s processes are the instruments in the orchestra, all coordinated by the conductor. Another analogy is an air traffic control center.
Executive Functions are how our brains organize the interplay of all myriad mental processes toward goal-directed, purposeful behavior.