Executive Functions In The Brain: What Are They?

Executive functions in the brain are the group of skills that allow us to perform everyday tasks in life. They are responsible for how we stay organized, solve problems, regulate our emotions, and much more. Now you may be wondering, Where are executive functions in the brain? These cognitive controllers are located in the frontal lobe and prefrontal cortex of the brain. The executive functioning prefrontal cortex is constantly sending signals to help us process information then deliver the appropriate behavior. For example, if you have a project due next week, your executive functioning prefrontal cortex would tell you not to procrastinate and to start working on the project now. This would save you emotionally from the stress that may come from waiting until the last minute. .

Another instance of how our executive functions work could be how you react during a conversation with a colleague. If someone says to you they received a promotion, your executive functions would likely tell you to exude, “Congratulations!” and a happy reaction. However, while it may seem like the brain can perfectly execute these responses, many people actually have executive functioning disordersStruggling with your cognitive behavior towards situations or with your emotions in life can be signs of poor executive functioning in the brain. If we look back on the examples earlier, instead performed with executive function deficits, you’d likely do the opposite behavior. You’d probably leave your project until the last minute or not complete it, avoiding turning it in at all. When a friend reveals happy news to you, you may go silent, feel aggressive, or walk out of the room.

Recognizing Poor Executive Functions

When it comes to improving executive functions, the first step is to recognize the signs of poor executive functioning. Having a hard time staying on task, managing tasks, or your motions, can be indicators of executive functioning disorders. In students, executive functions may need improvement if they can’t make a schedule, turn in homework, or concentrate on tests. Emotional difficulties may be inability to control negative emotions or appropriate responses. Many adults suffer from poor executive functioning in the brain as well. For instance, often forgetting appointments, struggling to manage relationships, or trouble with scheduling their month. However, the important thing to remember is that our brains are constantly evolving and adapting to experiences in life. Thus, in the brain, executive functioning disorders can always be improved on. Improving executive functions in the brain begins with understanding the three main areas of executive functions.

The Three Main Functions

Our executive functions in the brain are always in use for any situation we’re faced with. Let’s take a look at the three main areas of executive functioning: working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control. Working memory is the skill of retaining information then putting it into proper use. Cognitive flexibility is used when our brain views scenarios and settings in different ways. Inhibitory control is responsible for keeping us focused and avoiding distractions.  Additionally, many aren’t aware of these functions, how they work, or how enhancing them can transform their life completely. Fortunately, no matter how much someone has poor executive functioning in the brain, it can always be improved by training with an executive functions coach.

Executive Functions in the Brain: How to Improve Them

There are different approaches to training executive functions. However, in this blog, we will be covering specifically, executive functions coaching. On the first meeting, an executive functions coach should take time to understand the client and their specific difficulties in life. After assessing, an EF coach typically works with a client on a personalized plan to achieve their goals with weekly check-ins. Though they can teach strategies for mild emotional challenges, they are not a therapist or psychologist (unless they have the licenses). As mentioned earlier in the blog, those with brain executive functioning disorders often have mental health disorders. If you are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, do research if a coach contains credentials to treat these diagnoses. Combined emotional and mental support gives optimal help when growing your executive functions skills.

Lastly, it’s never too late to train your executive functions in the brain. No matter if you’re an adult or a student, executive functions in the brain can be enhanced. As long as it takes for a client to feel assured they can use these skills on their own, a coach will be there to support them building executive functioning of the brain. So don’t be afraid to try EF coaching and enhance your executive functions.