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FEX – fostering executive functions

Prof. Dr. Dr. Manfred Spitzer
Director of the ZNL Transfer Center
for Neuroscience and Learning at the
Universiy of Ulm

Applied brain research findings

At home and in preschool, children quickly give into their first impulse, forget established rules, become loud or defiant ...
This is a very normal behavior at this age. They must first develop self-regulation. In order to do so, children need, in addition to well-qualified teachers, a variety of playful and meaningful opportunities related to everyday life that they can practice. The ability to self-regulate is based on the executive functions. A whole range of abilities is meant by this: acting purposefully, blocking out distracting stimuli and thoughts, and responding flexibly when a situation changes. It has been proven in several studies that executive functions are important because you get through life better with them.
They are also critical for success in learning. And they can be trained with sports, music, theater, (manual) work ... and with special games. At the same time, children learn skills, attitudes, and actions that will enable them to have better control of their life.


Executive Functions

Working memory

retain important information

  • Store short-term memories and process the stored information
  • Remember your own action plans
  • Consider alternative actions


impulse control

  • Alternative actions instead of instinctive autopilot
  • Measured control of your own actions
  • Improved concentration

Cognitive flexibility

mental agility

  • Adapt to new situations and challenges
  • See people and situations from different perspectives and shift between them
  • Learn from mistakes