What is Executive Function?
Executive function, otherwise known as cognitive control or supervisory attentional system, is an umbrella term for the administration and management of cognitive abilities, processes, and memory.
The part of the brain that controls executive function is the prefrontal cortex, which is also responsible for other things such as the production and release of the mood-enhancing neurotransmitter dopamine.
This part of the brain is closely related to the ability to develop concepts and think abstractly. It is also primarily responsible for motivation, reward, planning tasks, and the ability to maintain focus.
So Why is Executive Function Important?
Executive function is responsible for your ability to do the following:
- Start and complete a task
- Keep track of time
- Source more information or help when necessary/where needed
- Apply learned information to solving new problems
- Make efficient plans
Everything you do, see, touch, smell, and hear are related to your brain’s executive function. It is the literal difference between mindlessly reading a sentence and understanding what you just read. Another example of executive function is remember a phone number as you’re dialing it.
Seven Symptoms Related to Impaired Executive
The seven most obvious symptoms that stem from impaired executive function include:
- Difficulty starting a task
- Difficulty determining how long a task will take
- Doing things quickly, sloppily, and impulsively
- The inability to focus on any given task (ADD/ADHD)
- Short term memory issues, forgetfulness
- Difficulty making decisions
- Difficulty switching from one task to another