Nurturing children’s executive function skills: A meta-analysis on the efficacy of mindfulness compared to other interventions

Zsofia K. Takacs, Reka Kassai

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Children’s executive function (EF) skills including working memory, inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility are important predictors of school achievement and social-emotional well-being. There has been a call to evaluate the efficacy of different intervention methods to foster these skills and previous literature reviews highlighted a wide range of approaches including computerized training, exercise, mindfulness and specialized classroom curricula.
In the present meta-analysis we synthesized all available evidence regarding any interventions to enhance children’s EF skills in order to compare their efficacy in a quantitative manner.
Through a systematic literature search we found 90 studies reporting on a randomized or cluster randomized controlled trial of an intervention to foster EF skills including children up to 12 years of age including 59 studies reporting on samples of typically developing children.
In samples of typically developing children interventions that provide new strategies of self-regulation and, more specifically, mindfulness-based interventions were found to have significant moderate-sized (g+ = 0.46) benefits. In comparison, explicitly training EF skills also had the same effect (g+ = 0.46). Surprisingly, physical activity, EF-specific curriculum and art activities were found ineffective.
The present meta-analysis shows that mindfulness-based interventions are one of the most effective approaches to nurturing children’s EF skills. In fact, the benefits of mindfulness were comparable to that of explicit training of such skills which method does not seem to be meaningful for children who have no developmental delays. These results highlight the potential benefits of including mindfulness practices in the educational practice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2021
EventSRCD Biennial Meeting 2021 -
Duration: 7 Apr 20219 Apr 2021


ConferenceSRCD Biennial Meeting 2021
Internet address


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