Executive function, also called cognitive control, is used to describe a variety of "top-down" cognitive processes and abilities (e.g., working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility) that help us execute goal-oriented behavior. Deficits in executive functions are present in substance abuse disorders; as well developmental disorders that are associated with increased risk for substance abuse (e.g., conduct disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Recent research with children, adolescents and adults has indicated that training can enhance executive functioning skills and neuroscience has identified the brain mechanisms by which these interventions work, giving them added credibility.
The purpose of this workshop was to advance a scientific agenda that utilizes developmental cognitive neuroscience to guide the development of novel interventions to improve or ameliorate deficits in cognitive control functions and to translate this knowledge into strategies for the prevention and treatment of drug abuse across the human lifespan. The workshop had the format of brief scientific presentations followed by group discussion to:
The workshop participants made recommendations about methods that might be useful to further this research endeavor:
Context and an Ecological Framework