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Psychol Res. 2000;63(3-4):289-98.

Executive functions and the frontal lobes: a conceptual view.

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Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Several problems in understanding executive functions and their relationships to the frontal lobes are discussed. Data are then presented from several of our studies to support the following statements: (1) the examination of patients with focal frontal lobe lesions is a necessary first step in defining the relation of executive functions to the frontal lobes; (2) there is no unitary executive function. Rather, distinct processes related to the frontal lobes can be differentiated which converge on a general concept of control functions; (3) a simple control-automatic distinction is inadequate to explain the complexity of control-automatic processes; (4) the distinction between complex and simple tasks cannot explain the differences in functions between the frontal lobes and other brain regions; and (5) the most important role of the frontal lobes may be for affective responsiveness, social and personality development, and self-awareness and unconsciousness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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