As its label implies, think of executive function as the CEO of our brains – the networks that control and coordinate our learning, emotions, and behaviour.
While not a formal learning disability diagnosis, the term is widely used within the learning and performance space.
As the world’s pace increases, academic and professional demands become more complex; we are all expected to be strong problem solvers and critical and flexible thinkers.
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This makes sense because many of the same cognitive functions are involved. They are the processes in the brain that control our attention and focus.
Symbolic Thinking in our left hemisphere and Non-Verbal Thinking in our right hemisphere are designed to constantly be generating solutions to the tasks we face and to keep us on task until the solution is reached.
In combination, four cognitive functions become our brain’s leadership team: constantly surveying the world around us, analyzing problems and opportunities, calculating risks, making decisions and – importantly – developing contingency plans.
With any weaknesses in executive functioning, we must rely on external systems, strategies, even the support of other brains, to operate well.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for parents, spouses and peers to take on the executive role in the lives of those who struggle with executive function skills.
Parents who expected their role to change as their child grows older find they continue to step in, manage and problem solve. Spouses and colleagues find themselves burdened, picking up the slack, or simply being let down by someone who seems to fall short of their responsibilities.
Like many difficulties, poor executive function can often be misunderstood or seen as immaturity or motivational issues.
Davis’s organization and quality of work produced always meets expectations. His ability to manage his time is also quite impressive.
My daughter now uses her own brain to do things, where before she was borrowing mine.