Executive Function, part 2

As a child, when thinking about how my brain worked, I imagined tiny people racing around my brain carrying out  directions given by the command center. Now I know … the command center is my prefrontal cortex!

Elkhonon Goldberg says that the prefrontal cortex is “the one part of your brain that makes you who you are.”

Particularly if you teach or are a parent, you have probably seen kids with less than prime functioning executive function. This is not so unusual, as the prefrontal cortex is the last area of our brains to get connected, and is not fully formed until we reach our mid-twenties.

Executive function issues are not limited to childhood and teenage years; they often can continue on to adulthood. Both children and adults who have issues with their EF can be “misunderstood as being willfully disorganized or lazy, possessing a bad attitude or, from a parental viewpoint, ‘doing this on purpose to drive me crazy.’” according to this New York Times article, Lack Direction? Evaluate Your Brain’s C.E.O.

More recently, Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang, authors of Welcome to Your Brain, make the case in Exercise on the Brain that exercise is not only good for your body, but equally good for your brain.

In humans, exercise improves what scientists call “executive function,” the set of abilities that allows you to select behavior that’s appropriate to the situation, inhibit inappropriate behavior and focus on the job at hand in spite of distractions.

For a succinct delineation of EF’s impact on learning, along with suggestions for managing some of the issues that can arise when EF is not optimal, check out these two pages (mentioned in an early July post) at the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Executive Function Fact Sheet
Executive Function: A Quick Look

For those who prefer listening, The Brain Science Podcast with Ginger Campbell, MD, has an in-depth discussion about executive function and our frontal lobes, based upon the book by Elkhonon Goldberg, The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind.

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2 thoughts on “Executive Function, part 2

  1. synapsesensations Post author

    Hi Randy,

    Just spent some time checking out your site and found it most interesting and informative, especially as I am a computer teacher. I noticed at the bottom of the Kids page there is reference to some links and a set of hints for kids to convince their parents about the merits of video games, but that this information isn’t live yet. I might have missed it ? is there some other place on the site where the info resides?

    Have sent the site to our middle school learning specialist, as I think she may find it useful. Thanks for sharing.

    Regards,
    Laurie

  2. Randy Kulman

    Those interested in executive functions and kids may be interested in our work using digital technologies to train executive functions and other suggestions for kids with EDFs at learningworksforkids.com.

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