Executive Function

The Executive Function is the part of an individual’s brain that takes charge of the control and regulation of the many things we need to do in the average day.

Without it, we are like an orchestra without a conductor. The prefrontal cortex is the main area in the brain where the executive function resides, supported by the caudate nucleus, and the subthalamic nucleus.

Without these different parts, working in coordination, our organizational skills, time management and planning suffer. We lose focus and our inhibitory response is diminished. We can become more impulsive, and our ability to organize the different aspects of our lives can become severely challenged.

Executive function and self-regulation skills depend on three types of brain function: working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. These operate as follows:

  • Working memory governs our ability to retain and manipulate distinct pieces of information over short periods of time.
  • Mental flexibility helps us to sustain or shift attention in response to different demands or to apply different rules in different settings.
  • Self-control enables us to set priorities and resist impulsive actions or responses+

These cognitive processes can be very challenging for someone with ADHD. They affect self-awareness and self-regulation. Imagine the chaos of an orchestra without an experienced conductor at the helm. The orchestra would run amok. And imagine if all the orchestra members were children. Without a supportive and nurturing environment growing up, this all becomes even more difficult. Therefore, a large number of adults with ADHD have grown up feeling awkward and out of sync with everyone else.

Very often, the Non-ADHD partner isn’t aware of what it feels like to not have their executive function working as it should. It’s often hard to put himself or herself in the mindset of their ADHD partner. This can cause enormous stress for the ADHD Couple. When both partners are educated about, the differences in the way their brains function it can help be very helpful towards creating an environment of understanding and compassion.


+, “Executive Function and Self-Regulation.” (Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University).

What Executive Function Impacts: 

  • Emotional Control
  • Impulse Control / Inhibitory Control
  • Organizing / Planning / Prioritization
  • Flexibility
  • Working Memory
  • Metacognition
    • Self-Monitoring
    • Self-Awareness
    • Self-Regulation
    • Self-Checking
  • Shift: Moving from one thought pattern to another
  • Task initiation
  • Goal-Directed Persistence
  • Sustained Attention

If you have ADHD, you know what it it’s like when you don’t feel like you have control of your thoughts, plans and organizational abilities. We want to help you with those things.

Call us on (949) 288-3459 to make an appointment with Steve to get your life on track.