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Executive Function

What is executive function? The cognitive skills that help us plan, prioritize, and execute complex tasks are commonly tied to ADHD in children and adults. Executive function is the cognitive process that organizes thoughts and activities, prioritizes tasks, manages time efficiently, and makes decisions.

Executive function skills are the skills that help us establish structures and strategies for managing projects and determine the actions required to move each project forward.


The “What” Circuit is linked to working memory, so it’s in this circuit that what we think starts to guide what we do. This is particularly true when it comes to plans, goals, and the future.


The “When” Circuit is the timing circuit of the brain — it coordinates not just how smooth behavior will be and the sequence of behavior, but also the timeliness of your actions and when you do certain things.


The "Why" It’s often referred to as the “hot” circuit because it’s linked to our emotions — it’s where what we think controls how we feel, and vice versa. It’s the final decision maker in all our plans.


The "Who" - It’s where self-awareness takes place — it’s where we’re aware of what we do, how we feel (both internally and externally), and what’s happening to us.


Depending upon which circuits are most impaired and least impaired, you can see variation in the kinds of symptoms that any individual is going to have. Some people have more working memory deficit. Some people have more emotion regulation problems. Some people have more difficulties with timing, but less difficulties with all the others.



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