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. [...]
[...] An integrative theory of prefrontal cortex function. Annual Review of Neuroscience 202. Ridderinkhof, K., Ullsperger, M., Crone, E. A., Nieuwenhuis, S. (2004). The role of the medial frontal cortex in cognitive control. Science 7. Rovee-Collier, C. (2002). The development of infant memory. Current Directions in Psychological Science 85. Rushworth MF et al. (2002). Role of the human medial frontal cortex in task switching: a combined fMRI and TMS study. Journal of Neurophysiology 2577-92. Visu-Petra, L., Benga, O., & Miclea, M. [...]
[...] When asked whether they would prefer a small candy now or two small candies later, young children will typically take the immediate reward. As their impulse control develops, however, children see the greater benefit in waiting and can inhibit their automatic response. Similarly, adults with executive functioning difficulties will have a hard time inhibiting their impulsive behaviors. Eating disorders, OCD, and ADHD all represent potential long-term difficulties of poor executive functioning (Garavan et al., 1999). Past research on this topic has measured reaction times as indicators of participants' ability to suppress a prepotent response Huang, Constable, & Sinha, 2006). [...]
[...] fMRI output associated with failed inhibition. Word Page: RED BLUE GREEN Color Page: RED BLUE GREEN Color-Word Page: RED BLUE GREEN References Anderson, V. A., Enderson, P.,Northam, E., Jacobs, R., & Catroppa, C. (2001). Development of executive functions through late childhood and adolescence in an Australian sample. Developmental Neuropsychology 406. Aron, A. R. & Poldrack, R. A. (2006). Cortical and subcortical contributions to stop signal response inhibition: Role of the subthalamic nucleus. Journal of Neuroscience 2433. Bryan, J. & Luszcz, M. [...]
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