THE EFFECTS OF MEDICATION ON EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING
According to Goldberg (2001), the neurobiologial term ôexecutive functionsö refers to a complex set of cognitive skills associated with the frontal lobes of the brain. These skills are related in large part to problem solving abilities such as hypothesis generation; organization, planning and execution; utilizing an existing knowledge store; entertaining alternative solutions; controlling for potential sources of interference; and utilizing environmental feedback to monitor oneÆs progress toward a goal and to modify approaches when necessary. These abilities are called "executive" functions because they are believed to play some sort of supervisory role by allocating old skills to solve new dilemmas. Therefore, executive functions play an important role in allowing humans to adapt to unique or novel situations.
To provide a fuller understanding of executive functioning, Goldberg (2001) uses the metaphor of an orchestra. An orchestra is comprised of many different types of instruments, such as violins, flutes, clarinets, trumpets, and so on. Similarly, there are parts of the brain which are responsible for different skills, such as language, memory, etc. Like an orchestra, the various parts of the brain can function on their own in certain circumstances. However, in order for all of these skills to work together in an organized fashion, the brain requires the help of executive functions, which can be compared to the conductor of the orchestra. Thus, without a conductor, the instruments may be able to play music, but the result is usually a disorganized mess. This too can happen with executive dysfunction. In other words, disease, trauma and injuries to the brain can cause disorder in terms of executive functioning.
Given the foregoing, it can be seen that whereas cognitive processes such as memory and visual processing represent discrete processes, executive function...