- During infancy and early childhood, children develop their ability to regulate their own emotions and behavior. This development of self-regulatory mechanisms has been considered to be the crucial link between genetic predisposition, early experience, and later adult functioning in society. This paper brings together the updated empirical findings related to the role of attention and the maturation of brain frontal areas in self-regulation. It reviews viewpoints and evidence of disciplines such as developmental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, social psychology, and neurobiology. It examines the causes of individual differences in self-regulation and the effects of those differences on the social and academic functioning of the individual. The consequences of failure in self-regulation are illustrated by focusing on the attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), including a detailed review of the animal models related to this disorder. Finally, some initial evidence suggesting the possibility of fostering self-regulation through training of attention is presented.