This article examines the role of working memory, attention shifting, and inhibitory control executive cognitive functions in the development of mathematics knowledge and ability in children. It suggests that an examination of the executive cognitive demand of mathematical thinking can complement procedural and conceptual knowledge-based approaches to understanding the ways in which children become proficient in mathematics. Task analysis indicates that executive cognitive functions likely operate in concert with procedural and conceptual knowledge and in some instances might act as a unique influence on mathematics problem-solving ability. It is concluded that consideration of the executive cognitive demand of mathematics can contribute to research on best practices in mathematics education.
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