Training Self-Control: A Domain-General Translational Neuroscience Approach

Elliot T. Berkman, Alice M. Graham, Philip A. Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Self-control plays an important role in healthy development and has been shown to be amenable to intervention. This article presents a theoretical framework for the emerging area of "brain-training" interventions that includes both laboratory-based direct training methods and ecologically valid school-, family-, and community-based interventions. Although these approaches have proliferated in recent years, evidence supporting them is just beginning to emerge, and conceptual models underlying many of the techniques they employ tend to be underspecified and imprecise. Identifying the neural systems responsible for improvements in self-control may be of tremendous benefit not only for overall intervention efficacy but also for basic science issues related to underlying shared biological mechanisms of psychopathology. This article reviews the neurodevelopment of self-control and explores its implications for theory, intervention, and prevention. It then presents a neurally informed framework for understanding self-control development and change and discusses how this framework may inform future intervention strategies for individuals suffering with psychopathology or drug abuse/dependence, or for young children with delays in cognitive or emotional functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-384
Number of pages11
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Executive function
  • Inferior frontal gyrus
  • Self-control
  • Training
  • Transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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