Executive Functions and Problem-Solving

Executive functions are high-level cognitive abilities that control and regulate other processes and behavior. Executive functions are needed for goal-directed behavior. They include the ability to initiate and stop actions, to monitor and change behavior as needed, and to plan future behavior when faced with novel tasks and situations. Executive functions allow us to anticipate outcomes and adapt to changing situations. In addition, the ability to form concepts and think abstractly is considered a part of executive function.

The frontal lobes of the brain play a major role in executive function. The frontal cortex develops more slowly than other parts of the brain, and many executive functions do not fully develop until adolescence. Some executive functions also appear to decline in old age. Traumatic brain injuries and strokes involving the anterior cerebral artery typically cause injuries to the frontal lobes.The frontal lobes of the brain play a major role in executive function. Because of its complexity, the frontal cortex develops more slowly than other parts of the brain, and many executive functions do not fully develop until adolescence. Some executive functions also appear to decline in old age, and some executive function deficits may be useful in early detection of mild dementia. Traumatic brain injuries and strokes in the anterior cerebral artery typically cause injuries in the frontal lobes.

Problem-solving is a part of thinking abilities. Problem-solving can be described as a higher-order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of more routine or fundamental skills. Problem-solving includes problem finding and problem shaping. Problem finding requires intellectual vision and insight into what is missing. This involves the application of creativity. Problem shaping means revising a question so that the solution process can begin or continue. This often involves the application of critical thinking. Disorders in problem-solving can take form of an inability to find what is missing, difficulty making a plan of solution, or lack of ability to carry out the plan.
Reasoning, creative thinking, and decision-making are used in problem-solving. Reasoning is the cognitive process of looking for reasons for beliefs, conclusions, actions or feelings. Reasoning can be inductive or deductive, verbal, non-verbal, visual or mathematical. Problems in reasoning are often related to injuries in frontal lobes, but also in case of other injuries, different types of reasoning problems have been indicated.

Reasoning, creative thinking, and decision-making are part of problem-solving. Reasoning is the cognitive process of looking for reasons for beliefs, conclusions, actions or feelings. Reasoning can be inductive or deductive, verbal or non-verbal and visual or mathematical. Problems in reasoning are often related to injuries in the frontal lobes, but different types of difficulties with reasoning can also occur as a result of injuries to the other parts of the brain.