Over the past decade, research has shown that brain fitness activities stimulate cognitive development and prime the brain for learning by improving key executive function skills of working memory, self-control and cognitive flexibility. These skills are also inextricably linked to social-emotional learning (SEL).
Brain fitness interventions targeting executive function skills can greatly improve academic and social-emotional outcomes for students—offering affordable and effective solutions to many of today’s educational challenges. Yet information about scientifically valid programs is not widely available to educators and policymakers in a way that allows for efficient and wise choices to be made regarding program selection and adoption.
Stress and depression are rising at startling rates among students, and research has demonstrated a resulting negative impact on learning. Poverty and other adverse childhood experiences affect nearly half of all U.S. children, significantly impacting the achievement gap and often resulting in lifelong deficits in academic performance, employment, and overall well-being.
Proven, neuroscience-informed brain fitness interventions, currently adopted in over 7,200 schools across the U.S., offer a clear path to better academic and social emotional outcomes. Offering effective brain fitness interventions such as cognitive training games, mindfulness, SEL and brain literacy during childhood and adolescence can improve the executive function skills and prosocial behaviors that are more accurate predictors of academic readiness and life success than IQ or any other performance markers.
The power to take action and support the health, well-being, and intellectual development of our youth is well within reach.
A new report from BrainFutures, Brain Fitness and Executive Function: Evidence-Based Interventions that Improve Student Outcomes, explains how brain fitness interventions that target executive function skills can play a major role in reducing challenges and increasing positive outcomes for PreK-12 students and evaluates scalable programs that meet the rigorous evidence-based standards of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These findings underscore the need – and the exciting opportunity – to ensure that every school in the U.S. implements an executive function skills program and that executive function skills training becomes a standard component of teacher certification programs.