Our executive functioning skills are a key component in our everyday lives. They let us analyze our tasks at hand, plan our days accordingly, break them down into specific steps and even make adjustments as we go along. However, when we encounter difficulties with these skills, it can make it very hard to lead a productive life.
The definition for executive functioning has long been an elusive one. As Dr. Rice mentioned in a previous blog, the definitions for executive functioning are as numerous as the people writing them! Fortunately, the psychologists at Rice Psychology Group are here to help clarify because understanding the ins and outs of these difficulties is one of the most important steps towards leading a more productive life.
Finding the Meaning
According to Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg, internationally renowned clinical neuropsychologist, the brain’s frontal lobe can be referred to as its executive lobe. In his extensive writings, which include “The New Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes in a Complex World,” Dr. Goldberg has recognized our frontal lobe’s role in helping us:
- Deal with complex decision-making and new situations
- Cope with ambiguous or vague circumstances
- Manage, plan and prioritize
- Have foresight
Human brains are wired to be prepared for the changing demands in our everyday life so that we can pick and choose what to pay attention to and what to remember while simultaneously switching between different bits of information. Our brains can additionally manage present situations by using old information it has kept in our long-term storage.
To sum it all up, executive functioning is how we refer to the mental skills that make it possible to lead a productive life.
Recognizing the Difficulties
While there is often no clear reason as to why certain people experience executive functioning difficulties, research has identified genes, brain differences, injuries to the frontal lobe and other disabilities and disorders as possible links. If you feel as if you or someone you love is experiencing difficulties with executive functioning, you might notice some of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty using feedback effectively during work or activities
- Remaining committed to a plan even if it’s clearly not working
- Needing directions and instructions to be repeated multiple times
- Trouble making decisions
- Difficulty deciding how to start a given task
- Having trouble estimating the time required for a task
- Difficulty switching between tasks
- Honing in on details or the bigger picture, but not both simultaneously
Rice Psychology Group is Ready to Help
The Tampa-based psychologists of Rice Psychology Group focus on two primary areas when assessing a person’s executive functioning abilities: the way they manage their thinking and the way they regulate their behavior and emotions.
When evaluating the first category, considered “cognitive management,” our team examines attention, task initiation, organization, planning, self-monitoring and working memory. When looking at the second category, known as “behavioral regulation,” we look at emotion regulation, flexibility and inhibitory control.
Our team conducts evaluations in a relaxing and friendly environment designed to put you at ease and make conversation with our psychologist flow comfortably. If you feel like you or your loved one is struggling with executive functioning, don’t hesitate to give us a call in Tampa today. We’ll help you work your way in the journey towards feeling better and improving your life.