Early Scope

Building the Brain’s “Air Traffic Control” System

Building the Brain’s “Air Traffic Control” System: How Early Experiences Shape the Development of Executive Function WORKING PAPER 11 (Resource Courtesy: WWW.DEVELOPINGCHILD.HARVARD.EDU)

The Issue WE PREPARE DINNER WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY HELPING OUR CHILDREN WITH THEIR homework and making notes about appointments we need to schedule for the week. We focus on our jobs when we need to and our families when they need us. We remember the phone number that our neighbor just gave us so we can write it down as soon as we get a pen. We take a deep breath, rather than honk, if the car in front of us fails to move immediately when the light turns green. As adults, our capacities to multitask, to display self-control, to follow multiple-step directions even when interrupted, and to stay focused on what we are doing despite ever-present distractions are what undergird the deliberate, intentional, goal-directed behavior that is required for daily life and success at work. And while there are cognitive limits to anyone’s ability to multi-task effectively, we need and rely on these basic skills in all areas of our lives.

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