Executive functions by Marinus Jan Marijs
Executive function (EF) is an umbrella term that encompasses the set of higher-order processes (such as inhibitory control, working memory, and attentional flexibility) that govern goal-directed action and adaptive responses to novel, complex, or ambiguous situations (Hughes 2005)
Executive functions Definition: (collectively referred to as executive function and cognitive control) are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals. Executive functions include basic cognitive processes such as attentional control, cognitive inhibition, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Higher order executive functions require the simultaneous use of multiple basic executive functions and include planning and fluid intelligence (e.g., reasoning and problem solving).
Executive functions gradually develop and change across the lifespan of an individual and can be improved at any time over the course of a person’s life. (Wikipedia)
The executive functions are among the last mental functions to reach maturity.
The neo-Piagetian theories aim to correct one or more of the following weaknesses in Piaget’s theory:
- Piaget’s developmental stage theory proposes that people develop through various stages of cognitive development, but his theory does not sufficiently explain why development from stage to stage occurs.
About transformations Click here:
- Piaget’s theory does not sufficiently explain individual differences in cognitive development. That is, the theory does not account for the fact that some individuals move from stage to stage faster than other individuals.
About individual developmental sequences Click here:
- The very idea of universal stages of cognitive development is incorrect. Research shows that the functioning of a person at a given age may be so variable from domain to domain (such as the understanding of social, mathematical, or spatial concepts), that it is not possible to place the person in a single stage.
About different individual developmental sequences Click here:
To correct these weaknesses of Piaget’s theory, various researchers, who are known as neo-Piagetian theorists, produced models of cognitive development that integrate concepts from Piaget’s theory with newer concepts
Beyond these neo-Piagetian theories a number of aspects should be taken into account:
There are not only cognitive structures, but also aesthetic/emotional, social/communicative, moral and spiritual structures.
These five main groups have all kinds of secondary groups.
These have not only vertical developmental stages, but also lateral developmental stages.
These different structures interact with each other.
There are all kinds of cross connections between these different structures.
And all these structures act as an interconnected whole
There are several lateral developments:
The what, when, where, how and where question
Strategic knowledge involves knowing what (factual or declarative knowledge), knowing when and why (conditional or contextual knowledge) and knowing how (procedural or methodological knowledge).
Formal, Logical, Methodical, Scientific
Executive management processes involve planning, monitoring, evaluating and revising one’s own thinking processes and products.
Inhibitory control, inhibitory control is necessary for overriding stimulus-driven behavioural responses
1st, 2th and 3th perspective view
Point of view: Inside view, Process view, Outside view
Mind-set, Discourse, Paradigm, Worldview
Metacognition can take many forms; it includes knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or problem-solving.
Understanding one’s own capabilities
Metamemory, defined as knowing about memory and mnemonic strategies, is an especially important form of metacognition
Metamemory or Socratic awareness, a type of metacognition, is both the introspective knowledge of one’s own memory capabilities (and strategies that can aid memory) and the processes involved in memory self-monitoring. This self-awareness of memory has important implications for how people learn and use memories.
The ability to become aware of distracting stimuli – both internal and external – and sustain effort over time also involves metacognitive or executive functions.
Thinking about thinking: Not only what to think, but how to think
To be more integrated and to increasingly be able to deal with more complex structures
The shift from natural numbers to algebraic representations of numerical relations.
Strategies word analysis skills, active reading strategies, listening skills, organizational skills and creating mnemonic devices.
Meta – meta cognition
Higher Executive functions
Thinking regarding thinking about thinking
The avoidance of logical fallacies
Systems of Systems
Self-regulation to become increasingly focused, refined, efficient, and strategic.
Build maps or models of mental functions which are continuously updated.
Higher order of complexity actions organize those lower-order actions
Trans – meta cognition
Systems of Systems of Systems
Increases in processing efficiency
Very high patron recognition
Increasing ability to efficiently monitor the internal mental processes.
The five major domains become increasingly interconnected with each other and they acquire their meaning from their interrelations.
This brings up the following question: Can one increase ones intelligence?
It is possible to increase ones intelligence by training, which can show significant improvements in IQ scores (this can explain the so called Flynn effect)
So it seems possible to increase ones intelligence, be it in the different domains of aesthetic/emotional, cognitive, social/communicative, moral and / or spiritual intelligence
But there is another approach explicated by Richard M. Burke:
In his book “Cosmic consciousness” Richard M. Burke describes transformations of consciousness.
In this book the author explores the concept of cosmic consciousness, which he defines as “a higher form of consciousness than that possessed by the ordinary man”.
His research into higher levels of consciousness makes clear that transformation to a higher level of consciousness is possible, and that this is not a gradual proses but a leap.
That high-level mystical transformations can lead to a very remarkable improvement in mental functioning has been described by
Richard M. Burke, but what are the factors that are involved in this process?
With this transformation, the monologue interior is now silenced.
The mind is now in a state of permanent meditation, and the enormous amount of mental energy that was wasted in irrelevant thought processes now comes free.
To a limited degree this happens already with creative persons, to mathematicians and scientists before they have their insights, their intuitions. This happens after they are in a deep quiet state of mind.
This also happens with creative artist, before their inspirations.
The difference with high-level mystical transformations is that here this is a permanent state.
One’s focus point of consciousness is no longer situated on the lower strata of consciousness but on higher ontological levels.
This will lead to the development of still higher mental functions, such as:
Creativity (problem solving)
Talent and its development
Genius: Researchers operating under the expertise performance framework argue that greatness is largely the result of a large amount of domain-specific knowledge, acquired through many thousands of hours of deliberate practice where one is constantly striving to learn from feedback and push beyond his or her limits, but other factor seem to be at play here.
About Siddhis (Click here)
The illustration on top of the page a detail from Bird’s Eye View from the Staircase & the Upper Part of the Pavilion in the Colosseum, Regent’s Park (1829), a coloured aquatint by Rudolph Ackermann. 1829.