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Executive Functioning

Executive functions refer to a variety of processes that have the roll of guiding, directing, and managing cognitive, emotional and behavioral functioning (Gioia et al., 2000). The processes can be likened to the foreman at a construction site whose job it is to direct and coordinate the activities of the other workers, assuring that they function as a well oiled machine. It is widely argued that executive functions come in to play when we are involved in novel or complex tasks for which we do not have an established routine. Aspects of executive functions that are assessed during the evaluation process include problem-solving, planning and organization, working memory and cognitive flexibility. Working memory requires further description because of the important role it plays in learning and memory. It refers to the ability to keep information in mind for a brief period of time during which that information is used in some manner. Once the information is manipulated it is either transferred to long term-memory or is lost because it is no longer needed.