Executive functions

Executive functions play a key role in steering action and play a central role in the successful management of everyday life. They are understood to be metacognitive processes that enable goal-oriented and situation-adapted action and include anticipation, planning and targeted execution of actions as well as their monitoring and inhibition.

Disturbances often occur after damage to the prefrontal cortex, for example as a result of cranial trauma, tumours or brain infarctions.

Why are executive functions an important criterion for neuropsychology?

The term “executive functions” refers to a number of regulatory and control mechanisms that facilitate goal-oriented and situation-appropriate behavior (Drechsler, 2007). Executive functions are regarded as metacognitive processes involved in the anticipation, planning, goaldirected implementation, monitoring and inhibition of actions (Müller & Münte, 2009).

Executive functions are key to successful coping with everyday life. They are based on the intact functioning of the prefrontal cortex and its subcortical connections (Mega & Cummings, 1994).

Disorders of the executive functions therefore frequently occur after damage to the prefrontal cortex, for example as a result of craniocerebral trauma, tumors, cerebral or also after damage to the cerebellum.

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