Executive functions

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Executive Functions are a set of mental abilities in the human brain that are responsible and necessary for someone to be able to control their behavior. Executive Functions include:

  • Attentional Control - the ability to choose what to pay attention to
  • Cognitive Inhibition - the ability to tune out distractions
  • Inhibitory Control - the ability to practice restraint
  • Working Memory - the ability to store information temporarily in order to effectively perform complex tasks
  • Cognitive Flexibility - the ability to think about multiple things at the same time, and to switch between tasks

Individual Function Descriptions[change | change source]

Attentional Control[change | change source]

Cognitive Inhibition[change | change source]

Inhibitory Control[change | change source]

Working Memory[change | change source]

Cognitive Flexibility[change | change source]

Physical Properties[change | change source]

The Prefrontal Cortex[change | change source]

In cases of diseases and/or disorders[change | change source]

Executive functions are primarily controlled from a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, which relies on a regulated, adequate supply of dopamine. In cases of addiction, ADHD, autism, and other nervous-system disorders, it is possible for this part of the brain to only receive a portion of the dopamine that it needs in order to work at full capacity. As a result an individual can lose partial or even complete control of these mental abilities. It is possible that by increasing dopamine production in the brain by medication, exercise, or a variety of other methods, the prefrontal cortex can receive additional dopamine, and the person can regain control of some or all of these functions.