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Executive function refers to a range of coordinated cognitive processes including attention, planning, initiation, working memory (ability to mentally hold, process, and manipulate information in order to carry out more complex tasks), inhibition, problem solving, decision making, self-monitoring, and self-regulation. These higher level abilities are responsible for directing perception, emotion, cognition, and action for complex tasks. Although the concept of executive function was first described in the 1840s to explain the changes in behavior and personality exhibited by Phineas Gage, a railroad worker who suffered injury to his left frontal lobe, the definition was not refined until the 1970s, and there is still no universal definition. Furthermore, it is unknown whether these skills involve one main underlying ability or if these skills represent distinct but ...

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