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Development of executive functioning and neural correlates of the inhibitory response

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The human race is unique in that individuals have developed the ability to intentionally plan goals and change behavior as needed to achieve those goals. The cognitive abilities implicated in goal-achievement are referred to as executive functioning skills. These include planning, monitoring behavior and changing as necessary, problem-solving, the inhibitory response and delay of immediate gratification (Elliott, 2003). Executive abilities act as regulatory mechanisms, effectively organizing lower-level cognition's into more well-integrated cognition's. They allow us to think abstractly and to remember information that is functional and adaptive. Collectively, these abilities also allow us to deal with novel situations and environments. We learn from previous experiences and use that knowledge to face unfamiliar events. Much of the research investigating executive functioning has been borne out of the cognitive psychology tradition.

Problems with executive functioning may result in a myriad of psychological, social, and behavioral difficulties. Previous studies have found a link between decreased executive functioning capabilities and compulsive behaviors such as substance abuse, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and risk-taking behavior (Elliott, 2003). Similarly, research has consistently shown that adults with underdeveloped executive functioning experience poor modulation of affect, which increases their risk for suffering from depression, anxiety, and even suicidal ideation. Disorders such as schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and autism have all been linked to executive functioning deficits (Garavan, Ross, & Stein, 1999; Anderson, Enderson, Northam, Jacobs, & Catroppa, 2001). Based on these potential consequences, it is clear that researching this topic has important implications for clinical work, cognitive psychology research, and therapeutic outcomes.

[...] Children may experience learning disorders due to executive functioning difficulties. Inability to plan a daily schedule, difficulty remembering homework assignments, and struggling with integration of course content over time may all indicate poor executive functioning (Anderson et al., 2001). Recognizing and treating these difficulties during childhood may decrease the risk for serious pathology during adulthood. Development of executive functioning is referred to as protracted, meaning that it follows a gradual increase from early childhood into early adulthood and then declines slowly in old age. [...]


[...] Development of executive functioning and neural correlates of the inhibitory response The human race is unique in that individuals have developed the ability to intentionally plan goals and change behavior as needed to achieve those goals. The cognitive abilities implicated in goal- achievement are referred to as executive functioning skills. These include planning, monitoring behavior and changing as necessary, problem-solving, the inhibitory response and delay of immediate gratification (Elliott, 2003). Executive abilities act as regulatory mechanisms, effectively organizing lower-level cognitions into more well-integrated cognitions. [...]


[...] This still represents a somewhat crude measure of the inhibitory response, however. Newer studies, therefore, are relying on physiological data as a more concrete measure of the inhibitory response. Neural Correlates of Impulse Control Neuroimaging research has provided much of the evidence for the physiological basis of the impulse control response. Use of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imagery (fMRI) technology has revolutionized the field of neuropsychology since the mid-1990's. This type of imaging is preferred given that it involves a minimally invasive procedure and is available to a large portion of the public (Aron & Poldrack, 2006). [...]


[...] A. (2000). Measurement of executive function: Considerations for detecting adult age differences. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology 55. Christ, S. E., White, D. A., Mandernach, T., & Keys, B. A. (2001). Inhibitory control across the lifespan. Developmental Neuropsychology 669. Elliott, R. (2003). Executive functions and their disorders. British Medical Bulletin 59. Golden, C. (2006). [...]


[...] Identification of brain disorders by the stroop color and word test. Journal of Clinical Psychology 658. Li, C. R., Huang, C., Constable, R. T., Sinha, R. (2006). Imaging response inhibition in a stop- signal task: Neural correlates independent of signal monitoring and post-response processing. The Journal of Neuroscience 192. Liu, T., Slotnick, S. D., Serences, J. T., Yantis, S. (2003). Cortical mechanisms of feature-based attentional control, Cerebral Cortex - 1343. Miller, E. K. & Cohen, J. D. [...]

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