Executive dysfunction

Introduction
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By Alfredo Ardila PhD

Executive dysfunction is also known as or subsumes Frontal lobe syndrome, Prefrontal syndrome, Dorsolateral syndrome, Medial frontal lobe syndrome, and Orbitofrontal syndrome. -ed.

The term "executive function" includes the ability to filter interference, engage in goal-directed behaviors, anticipate the consequences of one's actions, and to exhibit the adaptive concept of mental flexibility. The analysis of executive functions represents one of the most important research areas in contemporary neurosciences. It is partially—but not totally—related to frontal lobe activity. Executive disorders have been documented in a diversity of conditions. Executive defects early in dementia predict subsequent behavior disturbances, functional decline, and mortality. In elders, intellectual tasks and everyday activity programs may benefit executive function abilities.

Key Points

  • The term “executive functions” includes problem solving, planning, inhibiting responses, strategy development and implementation, cognitive control, and working memory.
  • Frontal processes, although not synonymous with executive functioning, are integral to its function.
  • Three major variants of the executive dysfunction syndrome can be distinguished: orbitofrontal, medial, and dorsolateral.
  • Executive dysfunction has been documented in a diversity of conditions, including dementia, traumatic brain injury, white matter lesions, borderline personality disorder, substance abuse, multiple system atrophy, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, progressive supranuclear palsy, CADASIL, and Korsakoff syndrome.

In This Article

Introduction
Historical note and nomenclature
Clinical manifestations
Clinical vignette
Etiology
Pathogenesis and pathophysiology
Differential diagnosis
Diagnostic workup
Prognosis and complications
Management
References cited
Contributors