Executive Function describes the neuro-cognitive processes that act to self regulate how your brain responds to different complex situation to ensure the best outcome or success.
This includes but is not limited to:
- managing attention to the more important task
- managing emotional response to ensure appropriate emotional reaction or engagement to the situation (this includes managing motivation)
- providing inhibition or the ability to stop a reaction to a trigger (the ability to pause)
- working memory: the capacity to hold information in forefront of mind when needed which also includes or influences the ability to prioritise, project forward in time, to hold past outcomes in mind when considering options, and successfully program behaviours through verbal processing. (to name a few)
As you can see these would all also be necessary in combination to support cognitive activities such as planning, organising, generating new idea or even the ability to successfully shift between ideas or approaches smoothly.
While the above descriptions are an abbreviated collection based on my review of current clinical literature, there are also many other descriptions and opinions identified and I encourage you to look out for information regarding them. Most of the core concepts are consistent and they all support greater understanding.
For anyone interested particularly in Executive Function and ADHD, we highly recommend the works of Prof. Russell Barkley http://www.russellbarkley.org and Dr Thomas Brown http://www.drthomasebrown.com