Pioneering research on executive functions frontier

World leading neuroscientist Professor Adele Diamond has revealed how we can all improve our cognitive processes to help us think before we act. In a recent study, Professor Adele Diamond and Dr Daphne S. Ling comprehensively evaluated all the different methodologies of experimental executive function training age to find out what works.

Diamond describes executive functions as developable skills that consist of working memory, inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility. Executive functions enable us to reason, problem-solve, think before we act, and see things from new and different perspectives; as well as to flexibly adapt to changing demands or priorities in unfamiliar or unexpected circumstances.


Within the complexity of our modern world, a high executive functions skill index allows for individuals to thrive socially, professionally and economically. The good news is that researchers now believe that executive functions can be improved at any age, and are experimenting with cognitive training or physical exercise for boosting executive functioning.


Diamond and Ling believe that effective EF training can help to ‘reduce social disparities in academic achievement’, as well as health. Improving an individual’s executive functions improves their chance of professional, economic and social success. Aerobically and cognitively challenging physical activities, such as Taekwondo and Yoga, show promising benefits. However, the least effective form of physical executive function training is ‘mindless’ aerobics or resistance training. As those who are most disadvantaged stand to gain from executive function training, Diamond and Ling’s systematic evaluation of various approaches paves the way to innovatively combat societal inequality.

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