FORAMENRehab®Executive Functions and Problem Solving

The FORAMENRehab® Executive Functions and Problem Solving module has been designed for the cognitive remediation of disorders in executive functions and problem solving.

Executive function describes a set of cognitive abilities that control and regulate other abilities and behavior. Executive functions are needed for goal-directed behavior. They include the ability to initiate and stop actions, to monitor and change behavior as needed, and to plan future behavior when faced with novel tasks and situations. Executive functions allow us to anticipate outcomes and adapt to changing situations. In addition the ability to form concepts and think abstractly is considered a component of executive function.

The frontal lobes of the brain play a major role in executive function. Because of its complexity, the frontal cortex develops more slowly than other parts of the brain, and many executive functions do not fully develop until adolescence. Some executive functions also appear to decline in old age, and some executive function deficits may be useful in early detection of mild dementia. Traumatic brain injuries and strokes in the anterior cerebral artery typically cause injuries in the frontal lobes.

Problem solving is part of our thinking abilities. Problem solving has been defined as higher-order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of more routine or fundamental skills. Problem solving is part of the larger problem process that includes problem finding and problem shaping. Problem finding requires intellectual vision and insight into what is missing. This involves the application of creativity. Problem shaping means revising a question so that the solution process can begin or continue. This often involves the application of critical thinking. The disorders in problem solving can be seen as an inability to foresee, making a plan of solution or carrying out the plan.

Reasoning, creative thinking and decision-making are used in problem solving. Reasoning is the cognitive process of looking for reasons for beliefs, conclusions, actions or feelings. Reasoning can be inductive or deductive, verbal, non-verbal, visual or mathematical. Problems in reasoning are often related to injuries in frontal lobes, but also in case of other injuries different types of reasoning problems have been indicated.

Recommended literature:

Goldberg,  E. (2001).
The executive brain.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kaipio, M-L., Sarajuuri, J., Koskinen, S. (2000).
The INSURE program and modifications in Finland.
In: International handbook of neuropsychological rehabilitation.
New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. p247-258
Kanninen, A., Hämälä, M., Palomäki, H. (1997).
Neuropsykologian käsitteet.
Helsinki: Helsingin Psykotutkimus Oy.

Kuikka, P., Pulliainen, V., Hänninen, R. (2001).
Kliininen neuropsykologia.
Porvoo: WSOY

Lezak, M.D. (1995).
Neuropsychological assessment.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Prigatano, G.P. (1999).
Principles of neuropsychological rehabilitation.
New York: Oxford University Press.

Roberts, A.C., Robbins, T.W., Weiskrantz, L. (Edit.). (1998).
The prefrontal cortex. Executive and cognitive functions.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sternberg, R.J., Frensch, P.A. (Edit.). (2001).
Complex problem solving: Principles and mechanisms.
Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Stuss, D.T., Winocur, G., Robertson, I.H. (edit.). (1999).
Cognitive neurorehabilitation.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Vilkki, J. (1992).
Toiminnan ohjelmoinnin neuropsykologiset häiriöt.
Helsinki: Kuntoutussäätiö.

Wood, L., Fussey, I. (edit.). (1990)
Cognitive rehabilitation in perspective.
London:Taylor & Francis.