The relevance of executive functions (EF) as a lifespan concept begins with its gradual emergence in early childhood and continues to grow as the foundation for independent adult functioning including social and moral behavior. Effective and timely decision-making is an important outcome of EF processing, and recent studies focus on how aging affects decision-making abilities. A lifespan perspective on EF considers what are the adaptive challenges of aging and what EF are necessary for successful adaptation. Studies have reported changes in various test parameters associated with the construct of EF and implicate reductions in working memory capacities, speed of mental processing, cognitive flexibility, decision-making, and social cognition. There are several important priorities for research including gender differences in EF and aging, effective aides to decision-making, utilization of smart technology to reduce working memory demands and improve home safety, screening for EF decline on the primary care level, and interventions to modify EF decline, among others.
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