Executive Function Report


Together, we can unlock every student’s potential.

Download the full report here.

Scientific understanding of the brain has changed in recent years: we now know that the brain is highly malleable and continues to grow and change throughout our lives. 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 and emotional learning (SEL). 

Effective brain fitness interventions during childhood and adolescence produce striking results in improving 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—offering affordable and effective solutions to today’s educational challenges.

Our report, Brain Fitness and Executive Function: Evidence-Based Interventions That Improve Student Outcomes, presents a vetted set of brain fitness programs that meet the evidence-based standards of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that schools can adopt to support students’ academic and social-emotional development. We focus on classroom-based opportunities because they can help children with executive functioning deficits the most without stigmatizing them, since all students in a class participate together and benefit from the interventions.

Types of interventions reviewed include cognitive training, mindfulness, and executive function skills curricula. Outcomes for the 10 programs that met our full criteria include significant: 

  • increases in proficiency on state-mandated tests for math and reading; 
  • improvements in school-administered tests of core subjects; 
  • reductions in disruptive classroom behaviors; 
  • increases in prosocial behaviors.
  • improvements on executive function tests recommended by the National Institute of Health

The evidence is clear: every school in the U.S. should adopt an executive function program and executive function training should be a standard component of teacher certification programs.



For media inquiries, please contact info@brainfutures.org.


Featured Articles

Advice on Choosing a ‘Brain Training’ Program for Students
Programs intended to improve students’ executive function
have grown in popularity, but in many cases the hype around
so-called “brain training” has outstripped the still-emerging research.
A report and rubric released by the nonprofit BrainFutures are
intended to help district leaders understand different aspects of
executive function and evaluate programs intended to
support students’ skills.
Read more from Education Week.



Report calls for wide classroom-based adoption of ten
brain fitness programs designed to improve foundational
executive functions
Of immediate use to educators and school leaders, the
report presents a vetted set of brain fitness programs
that meet the evidence-based standards of the federal
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
Read more from SharpBrains.



How Mindfulness-Based Programs Work toBL00 - How Mindfulness-Based Programs Work to Improve Students’ Academic Performance.jpg
Improve Students’ Academic Performance
Student levels of stress and depression have been climbing
at an alarming rate, and science is showing the negative
effects of such states of mind and emotions on learning.
Research has shown that that evidence-based programs such
as mindfulness can improve students’ executive function skills.
Read more from Mindful Leader.