What are Executive Functions?
Executive functioning is our brain’s ability to regulate, organize, and direct our thoughts and behaviours. It allows us to break a goal down into a step-by-step plan, manage our time, control our focus, and regulate our behaviour in order for the carrying out of tasks which are required of us.
Examples of executive functions include: working memory, cognitive flexibility, multi-tasking, problem-solving, planning, and self-control. More particularly, executive functioning is what allows us to shift our attention between tasks, continuously update the databases in our brains based off of incoming information, and inhibit incorrect responses to situations. Those who struggle with their executive functioning can find themselves having a hard time focusing, following directions, or even regulating their emotions appropriately.
What is Executive Function Training?
Given executive functioning provides us with the ability to reason, manage stress or emotion; researchers have conducted numerous studies, primarily on adults, to determine whether these executive functions can be improved through training. These studies have shown that executive functions can be improved through computer-based, video-game-like activities. Using these activities, people can improve their cognitive abilities which allows them to better interact with their surroundings.
Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) has been shown to be very effective in improving executive functioning. CRT can help patients learn to self-monitor their thoughts and feelings, and the social skill training present in CRT can help patients formulate appropriate responses when they find themselves in social settings