24th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development

July 10-14, 2016 | Vilnius, Lithuania

Philip D. Zelazo

Reflection Training: Executive Function and the Developing Brain

The deliberate control of thought, action, and emotion depends importantly on a set of attentional skills called executive function (EF) skills. EF skills support school readiness, academic success, socioemotional competence, physical and mental health, and other desirable developmental outcomes.  This talk addresses the nature of EF development in childhood, and effective ways to support this development.  One example is reflection training—providing opportunities to practice stepping back, putting things in context, and reflecting in a goal-directed fashion.  Research has found short-term reflection training to improve EF skills and produce predictable changes in brain function. Another example is mindfulness training, which may support the development of self-regulation by targeting top-down EF skills while modifying bottom-up influences (such as anxiety, stress, curiosity) to create conditions conducive to reflection.