Adult Learner

Systems Change


Factor Connections

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Inhibition, a component of executive functioning, is the ability to suppress Attention to irrelevant input and to focus on pertinent stimuli or information. Inhibition is essential for Self-regulation, as learners can use these skills to successfully control and monitor their focus and behavior during different tasks. Some adults, including many of those with learning disabilities or ADHD may have more difficulty using inhibitory control to support their learning.

Main Ideas

Inhibition occurs at two levels:

  • The cognitive level, where Attention is focused on relevant information; and
  • The behavioral level, where responses are controlled. The ability to inhibit a dominant response (e.g., stop yourself from performing a planned action) declines over the lifespan. However, older adults may show less decline when they participate in cognitively stimulating activities, such as speaking multiple languages, physical exercise, music, or dance.

For adults, Inhibition can be especially important as they navigate Problem Solving tasks in different aspects of their lives. For example, by helping learners to avoid fixations on ideas and strategies that may not be productive for a certain task, Inhibition supports the generation of innovative and creative thinking.

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