Entry Date:
January 13, 2009

The Effect of Training on Executive Function

Principal Investigator Rebecca Saxe

It's long been known that the prefrontal cortex supports some of the most abstract and socially necessary cognitive processes. Selective attention, inhibitory control, working memory, planning -- all are tools required to fit into a modern social structure, whether by allowing you to attend to the single relevant thread of conversation in the midst of a party, stop yourself from blurting out a juicy secret, or organize your day to arrive at classes on time. What remains unknown, however, is how those processes relate to each other. Are selective attention and inhibitory control separate functions, or are both facets of a single, central, capacity? We hope to use training to bolster some aspects of executive function, then to observe which other sub-processes of executive function show a transferred benefit. This process should help illuminate the true structure of "executive function," as well as provide a translational tool to boost some cognitive skills needed by socially disadvantaged populations.