Executive dysfunction is an impairment in an individual’s ability


executive dysfunction

Executive dysfunction is a term that refers to an impairment in an individual’s ability to utilize and coordinate their cognitive abilities. These cognitive abilities include working memory, attention, problem-solving, verbal reasoning, and inhibition. The term executive functions apply specifically to these cognitive abilities. Executive dysfunction may demonstrate itself in such symptoms as disorganization, forgetfulness, or poor impulse control. It can also manifest itself in the form of emotional instability and problems with social functioning. The impaired coordination noted in people with executive dysfunction is often referred to as disinhibition.

Each person who suffers from executive dysfunction typically experiences it differently depending on which areas are most affected by the disorder. Someone might have trouble organizing tasks while another might have trouble applying previous lessons learned to new tasks. Several different cognitive and psychiatric disorders can cause executive dysfunction including traumatic brain injury, ADHD, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

A person who has been diagnosed with executive dysfunction may not be able to utilize their abilities as well as those without the condition. They might find themselves behaving impulsively or emotionally rather than acting in a rational manner as most people would. It is important for those suffering from this disorder to understand why they are having difficulties so that they can learn how to manage them better. This understanding will help them overcome many of their problems and live more independently. 

Causes of Executive dysfunction

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There is no singular answer since there are several possible causes: damage to the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain responsible for decision making and moderating behavior), Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, severe head injuries, or lesions on the brain. A person may also suffer from executive dysfunction due to genetic predisposition (it can be hereditary).

The symptoms of Executive dysfunction

Since each person who suffers from executive dysfunction typically experiences it differently depending on which areas of their brain are most affected by the disorder, there is no one set list of symptoms. Some people with this disorder might have problems with coordination while others might exhibit emotional instability. Many people diagnosed with executive dysfunction will likely experience some form of disinhibition in addition to problems with inhibition and working memory. Other possible symptoms include impulsivity, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, or outbursts of aggression that seem uncharacteristic for the sufferer.

People suffering from Executive dysfunction

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People with executive dysfunction might find themselves behaving in ways that they don’t necessarily want to behave. They might act aggressively or impulsively toward others, resulting in social rejection. Since the brain is responsible for understanding and expressing language, people with EF often have trouble communicating their feelings to others. This may result in severe emotional outbursts. These individuals might also experience an inability to learn from past mistakes which can lead them to repeat the same behaviors over and over again.

Treatment of Executive dysfunction

There are several effective treatments available including psychotherapy (to help one deal with personality changes), cognitive remediation therapy (practice performing tasks that require problem-solving skills), and pharmacological intervention. Medication alone will not help someone with executive dysfunction overcome their problems. They need psychological and behavioral therapy as well.

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