From the New York Times: Training Young Brains to Behave.
But just as biology shapes behavior, so behavior can accelerate biology. And a small group of educational and cognitive scientists now say that mental exercises of a certain kind can teach children to become more self-possessed at earlier ages, reducing stress levels at home and improving their experience in school. Researchers can test this ability, which they call executive function, and they say it is more strongly associated with school success than I.Q.
"We know that the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until the 20s, and some people will ask, ‘Why are you trying to improve prefrontal abilities when the biological substrate is not there yet?’ " said Adele Diamond, a professor of developmental cognitive science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. "I tell them that 2-year-olds have legs, too, which will not reach full length for 10 years or more — but they can still walk and run and benefit from exercise."
Executive function involves three important skills. The first is the ability to resist distractions or delay gratification to finish a job: to finish the book report before turning on the television. The second is working memory, the capacity to hold multiple numbers or ideas in the mind, — for example, to do simple addition or subtraction without pencil and paper. The third is [continue]