Executive functions are a set of cognitive processes that monitor, guide, and control our behavior. These processes facilitate our successful navigation of the world. There is no agreed concensus on the number and nature of these components. However, there is general agreement that these processes are involved in working memory (actively holding and manipulating several bits of information in conscious awareness), inhibition (witholding a response), shifting strategies, attention, and problem solving. For example, imagine the processes a drone pilot has to engage in when flying. A future Amazon drone pilot has a number of instruments he must monitor and attend to (working memory and attention), be able to switch back and forth between activates (shifting), not drop a package at the wrong address (inhibition), and plan a route to the correct address (problem solving).
Tests of Executive Function
The Card Sorting Test available in CogQuiz is thought to measure several different processes of Executive Function. However, it is most prominently associated with an assessment of be able to switch strateges. Secondarly, the Card Sort is associated with working memory where one must hold in awareness the strategy associated with successful performance. The Tower of London is associated primarily with the planning strategy necessary for problem solving. Additionally, working memory will play a role in holding a successful set of moves in conscious awareness when solving a particular problem. The Trails tests has both a speed of processing component and a switching component. The Stroop test has a strong inhibition component. One must overcome the prepotent tendency to read words rather than state their color.