Executive Function: What It Is and Why It Is Important

One of the greatest scientific mysteries is how the human mind/brain functions.  For example, how does a young child control his or her temper? How does a child manage to sit still in school and pay attention to what the teacher is saying? How do we decide what career to pursue, make plans to obtain our academic goals and to pursue them despite often severe difficulties?  How do we manage the intricacies of human relationships including intimate ones? These are just a few of the many life tasks involving what neuropsychologists refer to as executive function.  Briefly, executive function is the set of cognitive processes which enables us to become aware of our needs and desires, and to create ways to attain them.