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What is 'executive dysfunction' and how might it affect a person's ability to work? Suzanne Trask explains.
Executive functioning describes the abilities we use when we think and consider – it's something we may take for granted in our everyday lives and at work.
It includes the ability to multi-task, solve problems, concentrate, make decisions and think flexibly. It also incorporates other abilities such as controlling our emotions, being self-aware and regulating our behaviour.
Executive dysfunction is the term used to describe when these functions aren’t working properly. This often occurs as a result of traumatic brain injury, leading to a range of cognitive, behavioural, and emotional difficulties. This affects people in different ways, so it is important to remember that as each person is different, how their brain injury affects them is also individual to them.
Executive dysfunction is sometimes referred to as ‘Dysexecutive Syndrome’, because it is usual for several of the symptoms to occur together.
What causes it?
Executive functions are controlled by the frontal lobes of the brain. This part of the brain controls our ability to organise, plan, problem solve and pay attention. It also controls our behaviours, emotions, personality and social skills. The frontal lobes are connected to many other areas in the brain and are instrumental in co-ordinating them.
Not all executive dysfunction is caused by brain injury, but brain