Classic article: “Preschool program improves cognitive control”

I’m introducing a new feature here at the CogSciBlog – classic article posts. As regular readers know, my posts typically highlight new research, but there are of course older articles and reports that remain relevant to contemporary cognitive science. So, I will occasionally post a summary of an interesting ‘classic’ article or report (‘classic’ broadly defined).

If you would like to submit an idea for a classic article, please contact me at mgs {at}

This week’s classic article is:

Diamond, A, Barnett, W. S., Thomas, J. & Munro, S. (2007, Nov. 30). Preschool program improves cognitive control. Science, 318(5855), 1387 – 1388.

Executive functions (EFs), also called cognitive control, are critical for success in school and life. Although EF skills are rarely taught, they can be. The Tools of the Mind (Tools) curriculum improves EFs in preschoolers in regular classrooms with regular teachers at minimal expense. Core EF skills are (i) inhibitory control (resisting habits, temptations, or distractions), (ii) working memory (mentally holding and using information), and (iii) cognitive flexibility (adjusting to change)… EFs are more strongly associated with school readiness than are intelligence quotient (IQ) or entry-level reading or math skills. Kindergarten teachers rank skills like self-discipline and attentional control as more critical for school readiness than content knowledge. EFs are important for academic achievement throughout the school years.

The article is available here [PDF].


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