What is Executive Function?

What is Executive Function (EF)?

The brain’s ability to set and accomplish goals. 

This includes:

  • Problem Solving    
  • Attention/Focus
  • Persistence
  • Managing Emotions and Impulses    
  • Motivation 
  • Working Memory    
  • Planning/prioritization   
  • Time Management    
  • Flexibility 
  • Organization    
  • Stress Tolerance
  • Metacognition

Who Doesn’t Have Trouble with Executive Functioning? (9:14) Anne Ginnett

ADHD and Executive Function Dr. Russell Barkley

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For a more formal definition of executive function: 

Executive function is a term that defines the cognitive processes involved in accomplishing goals. Various cognitive processes have been identified though generally they include working memory, flexibility, and inhibition. Russell Barkley, an expert in executive functioning research, identified five processes including self-management to time, self-organization/problem-solving, self-restraint, self-motivation, and self-regulation of emotions. Thomas Brown, another expert on executive functioning, describes executive functioning as the “cognitive management system of the brain.” Executive functioning has been shown to be managed by the prefrontal cortex in the frontal lobe of the brain.