Executive Function

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Executive Function

Basic Characteristics

  • Description

Executive function is the idea that there is a cognitive system composed of a collection of brain processes that guide our thoughts and behaviors. Specifically, this cognitive system is considered responsible for planning, cognitive felxibility, abstract thinking, and rule acquisition. Generally speaking, executive functioning is responsible for shifting mental sets, inhibition of preponent tendencies, working memory updating, choosing between alternative strategies, and monitoring of consequences. Sometimes referred to as cognitive control, fundamental cognitive functions include memory, learning, language and reasoning. Research has shown than frontal lobe damage creates deficits in executive functioning. People who experience frontal lobe damage often exhibit disorganized actions and strategies in everyday tasks. Deficits in executive function are a common feature of disorders such as schizophrenia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder.

  • History

British psychologist Donald Broadbent was the first to identify what he called selective attention and distinguished between 'automatic' and 'controlled' processes in the 1950s. It wasn't until 1975, however, that US psychologist Michael Posner coined the term cognitive control.

  • References

Chambon et al, 2008. The architecture of cognitive control in schizophrenia PMID 18316327

Martel et al, 2007. Executive function in adolsecents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder PMID 18316327

Torrent et al, 2006. Cognitive impairment in bipolar II disorder PMID 16946361

Related Information

  • Task or test associated with this construct (vote for your favorite, or nominate a new one by editing this page):

WCST, Category Test, Trail Making Test, Progressive Figures nad Color Form Test,

  • Indicators (dependent variables, conditions, or contrasts; measurement variables used for analysis) associated with this construct (vote or nominate by editing this page):
  • Closely related pages (vote or nominate related pages by editing this page):
  • CNP Level
    • Cognitive Concept

External Resources

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